(Credit: Dimitry Anikin)

The Barbican, London: Where brutalism meets the tropical

The Barbican Estate, a residential estate that was formed during the 1960s and the 1980s within Central London, is an area rebuilt after World War II devastation.

Designed by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, who are now considered one of the most important modernist architectural firms in post-war England, The Barbican is a prominent example of British brutalist architecture and once that has become a hub of creativity and artistry within the city.

What makes it important as a development is the sheer number of different things they managed to do,” said John Grindrod, author of Concretopia. “It embodies more than any other post-war rebuilding scheme a successful way of doing all the things people were talking about after the war, like the separation of pedestrians and cars, the use of tower blocks as landmarks, the joined-up maisonettes. They did all this, and they made it work. That’s a real triumph.”

The estate itself contains the Barbican Arts Centre, the Museum of London, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Barbican public library and the City of London School for Girls which completes what is commonly known as the Barbican Complex.

The Barbican Redevelopment Scheme, one of extreme complexity, took nearly three decades to design and build after having the designs approved in 1971. The result is a chiselled, brutal, and a quite breathtaking area that has split opinion on its beauty for decades.

(Credit: Carlie Egan)

“It’s the most complete piece of utopian planning in London,” says Jane Alison, head of visual art at the Barbican arts centre and editor of a recent book about the estate. “It’s extraordinary in its ambition and design rigour, and it is maturing very well. People are really beginning to appreciate it, and it’s increasingly home to artists and architects.”

Years of growth, evolvement and desire to become a focal point of the arts has led us to The Barbican Centre hosting some of London’s most desirable cultural events. It’s concert hall, gallery, cinema and the tropical conservatory has led created an area of escape from inner-city London life in all aspects.

The conservatory, surrounding the Barbican Theatre’s fly tower, is sheltered by steel and glass that covers 23,000 square feet, providing cover for over 1600 cubic metres of soil.

Two of the three pools accommodate koi, ghost, and grass carp from Japan and America, as well as a range of other cold water fish. According to information provided by The Barbican, the Conservatory now houses “around 2,000 species of plants and trees, some of which are rare and endangered in their native habitat” which were planted between 1980 and 1981.

(Credit: Benn McGuinness)
(Credit: Taylor Xu)
(Credit: Max Letek)
(Credit: Benn McGuinness)
(Credit: Alfie Chapman)
(Credit: Dimitry Anikin)
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