Like most Londoners, the Barbican Complex is probably one of my favourite places in the city. The 60s/70s build not only forms mostly a residential estate but includes the Barbican Arts Centre (also home to the London Symphony Orchestra and the Barbican Conservatory), the Museum of London, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Barbican public library and the City of London School for Girls. And also, it’s just a pretty cool place.
Not only a modern wonder, the Barbican Complex is a great example of Brutalist architecture at its finest. As you walk through the estate, there is a nod to the appeal of a utopian world and a time where looking to a futuristic way of living and when the Space Age swept the nation in the 60s yet the Barbican Complex was designed ahead of its time in the 50s. It leaves you with an unsettling, strange feeling as if you were travelling backwards and forwards in time simultaneously. With its only access point is through pedestrian walkways, here is a world built above street level that does not feel outdated but acts as a beacon of hope which is still felt through the concrete walls today. From the effects and devastation caused by the Second World War, the 40-acre site the Barbican now occupies was left in ruins from the London bombings for over two decades.
On a dark grey day, the estate may seem bleak and even imposing but in the hotter months, the sunshine sheds a new light on the Barbican. As parks filled up with city dwellers, I spent my last weekend sitting on the brick floors by the fountains in the sun with a few friends which made it probably the most unconventional sunbathing spot in London. However, the quietness and almost zen-like atmosphere of the complex feels far removed from the city which makes it an attractive alternative in the summer.
If you plan to visit London this year, make sure you stop by the Barbican in the sun or rain, either or the complex shouldn’t be missed. Not only is this a great example of Brutalist architecture, but highlights also include ‘The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945‘ exhibition currently on till 25 June 2017 or the indoor glass conservatory, home to a hidden tropical oasis. Just make sure you check opening times as the conservatory is a popular venue for weddings and fashion week events.
All photos are my own.