MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE – THE BARBICAN, LONDON

The Barbican development. City of London. Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, 1963-1982. A wet Thursday heading for the Barbican Art Gallery. We got a bit lost -as you do. The signage is almost funny in its ineffectiveness. It is more or less obligatory to wander round trying to make sense of the geography but even on a soggy day the magnificent confidence of the scheme is breathtaking. The three triangular towers are made more dramatic by their sharp triangular form and the angular balcony motif which runs throughout the whole of the Barbican like cooling fins. The usual term for this kind of architecture is Brutalist but the duplex flats on top of the lower blocks are crowned with semi-circular windows that remind me of the Norman arcade of St Bartholemew’s church in Smithfield and the artists’ studios on the tops of the terrace in Cromwell Road that you pass on the way out to the M4. A more post-modern streak.

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The Cromwell, Shakespeare and Lauderdale Towers are 400ft and 42 storeys high.

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The Barbican Centre has recently published a good book on the architecture and development of the Barbican. barbican: life, history, architecture is edited by Jane Alison and Anne Ferrari (ISBN 978-0-946372-41-6). It includes a fascinating collection of architects sketches and drawings documenting the design process.

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The foyer area of the Barbican Centre. I am not sure if the pink ceiling is original.

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