Homes with history: The Barbican
Time Out takes a look around a tiny studio flat in one of London's most iconic buildings, the barbican
Towering over the neighbouring buildings, the Barbican stands as the ultimate symbol of London’s postwar urban planning. Built in 1975, it was the UK’s tallest residential structure at the time and its stained Stickle Brick towers and the labyrinthine Arts Centre have prompted endless debate over whether it is flagship design or the ultimate in urban sprawl.
Long before the towers surged skyward over Clerkenwell, the site was attracting comment and controversy. The question of what to erect on the bombed-out area between Moorgate and Aldersgate Street began to be raised as soon as the war ended. In the late 1940s and early ’50s, the Corporation of London, which owned the area, was intent upon building a business park. With the received wisdom of theday being that Londoners should live in garden suburbs on the outskirts of town and commute to work, it saw little need to incorporate living quarters into its plans. However, a successful campaign was mounted by local Eric Wilkins taking the position that the City needed a large residential population to provide a legitimate electorate for local government.
Living in the shadows of the Barbican offers a unique living experience
In 1954, architect Geoffry Powell won the competition to build the Barbican estate. Pooling his talents with those of Peter Chamberlin and Christof Bon, who, like Powell, were academics with little practical experience, he started creating a design founded on the idea that a living environment should provide more than just a roof over one’s head. The trio set out their stall with the statement that: ‘The intention underlying our design is to create a coherent residential precinct in which people can live conveniently and with pleasure.’ Although to critics,the concrete towers and incomprehensible floor plan have little in common with elegant living, residents are swift to champion it.
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