My Lockdown leisure walks have taken me to every corner of the Barbican’s concrete wonderland. Or so I thought, until an idle stroll on what was meant to be a shortcut to somewhere else steered my through the gardens around Breton House.
The most remarkable thing about this half-hidden world around Breton House is that it is unremarkable. Its details are typical of the Barbican throughout, but there’s also a fabulous natural algorithm at work that makes Breton distinct.
Barbican concrete is roughly hammered in a way that casts different shadows at different times of the day. Sometimes the concrete looks grey/white, at other times it is light blue, or beige.
The ever-surprising unity of the curves and the straight lines of the buildings is another Barbican motif, creating an environment that is always familiar but also always renewing itself.
The scale of the Barbican complex is another constant source of wonder. Not only is it an international arts centre, it is home to around 6,000 residents in variously configured apartments. It has nooks and crannies everywhere, slotted cleverly into big open spaces – social spaces, water spaces, spaces where you can totally lose yourself. I expect to be making new discoveries in this fascinating concrete park for many years to come.
2 thoughts on “Backyard holidays: Barbican, London”
I love the Barbican. I was there last week to go to the library, and again marvelled at the spacial awareness of people who created such a magnificent place as the Barbican. It is full of surprises. There something origami like about it.
The architects were Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, very famous in the modernist/brutalist groove. After WW2, they built the Golden Lane Estate (where I live), then the Barbican, which to me is a concrete town-park. More like a campus, really. Open space was all part of the plan. Here’s the Wiki link
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