Our Concrete Utopia

It is always interesting to see how the Barbican is viewed by outsiders in terms of both architecture and as a living space.  The following article was first published in the September edition of N for Norwegian, the in flight magazine for Norwegian Air Shuttle A maze of 21 residential blocks and a world-renowned arts centre, London’s Barbican was designed as a radical solution to urban living – but only now, 50 years after building started on the residences, is the world fully coming to appreciate it Text by Peter … [Read more...]

Rattle’s Folly – Response from Sir Nicholas Kenyon

A response from Sir Nicholas Kenyon, The Barbican Arts Centre’s Managing Director, to the last issue’s guest editorial by Douglas Woodward regarding the plan to construct a new concert hall on the site currently occupied by the Museum of London when that moves to it’s proposed Smithfield site at the end of the decade.   Sir Nicholas Kenyon – Photo credit and copyright Sheila Rock It was interesting to read Douglas Woodward’s guest editorial in the last edition of Barbican Life about the proposed new Centre for Music at the Barbican, especially as Mr Woodward has been such an important … [Read more...]

Architecture and Light at the Barbican

Architectural photographer, Alan Ainsworth, discusses the hugely significant importance of light in the context of the Estate’s architectural design and ambience. Alan Ainsworth Barbican residents often speak about the special nature of the Barbican as a place in which to live. As an architectural photographer I am always looking for that special factor which makes people feel there is a ‘sense of place’. I’m very familiar with the Barbican – I’ve lived nearby for 15 years - but recently I began to notice how the Barbican space is transformed by the light which emerges from between, … [Read more...]

A Royal visit for a Barbican Anniversary

A visit from Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, to the Barbican in conjunction with a London Gardens Society tour of City gardens and their ecological impact, was the highlight of the Barbican Horticultural Society’s 35th Anniversary.  The Hortisoc’s Chairman, William Howard, describes the visit. Monday 8th June 2015. A fine summer’s day and at 12 noon a mini cavalcade stopped in Lauderdale car park. Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex had arrived in the Barbican as Patron of The London Gardens Society (LGS) to which our Barbican Horticultural Society (BHS) is affiliated. The Prince was … [Read more...]

Ways to walk in London

Writer and illustrator Alice Stevenson, in her new book Ways to Walk in London, explores the capital on foot and includes her walks along our own Barbican Highwalks. Kate West traces her footsteps.   Alice Stevenson London-based Alice Stevenson is an illustrator, designer and educator who has created designs and illustrations for numerous brands and companies - from Volvo to Vogue, Tesco to Kellogg's, Crabtree & Evelyn, Marc by Marc Jacobs and Hugo Boss. Alice does not drive, nor does she cycle or jog. She walks. Often for miles. For the last few years, she has been exploring … [Read more...]

Tunnelling under the Barbican

BA Chair, Jane Smith, recently had the opportunity to visit one of the tunnel boring machine sites under the Barbican and this article gives her impressions of what she found to be a fascinating experience.  There aren’t too many perks from being chair of the Barbican Association – but I think visiting a Crossrail tunnel boring machine probably counts as one. Certainly, when I was offered the chance to visit TBM Elizabeth digging the eastbound tunnel under the estate on her way to Farringdon, I jumped at it. Jane Smith in full Crossrail visitor gearin one of the TBM tunnels under … [Read more...]

Blake Tower – the Barbican’s new tower block

Barbican residents will mostly be well aware that the Estate is being extended by the redevelopment of the former YMCA building on the corner of Fann Street and Aldersgate Street.  The official launch of the new development, to be called Blake Tower, took place at the end of May and now we have much more detail on the design, and what the new apartments will be put on the market for in terms of price. Blake Tower exterior The development is being handled by Redrow London, and the approved plans involve the construction of 74 one, two and three bedroom apartments and studios within … [Read more...]

 ‘Silicon Roundabout’ – Genesis and Future

The Old Street Roundabout, close to the Barbican and nowadays often referred to as ‘Silicon Roundabout’, contributed many years ago to the development of “The Cloud”. The story is amusing, and relevant to the future of technology-based industry in London. Barbican resident Keith Clarke explains. In 1969 the building to the northwest of the Old Street roundabout housed the unit then responsible for buying Government computers. I appraised computers that were accessed remotely, then called “time sharing services”. Initially the networks were simple enough to be drawn in full. Later they … [Read more...]


Martin Clunes explains why after years of playing Doc Martin his wife convinced him to take a chance with a new ITV drama about Sherlock Holmes author Arthur Conan Doyle.    Martin Clunes knew that that his new project was big news as soon as he started telling people about it. The BAFTA winning star of Men Behaving Badly is morphing into Sherlock Holmes author Arthur Conan Doyle for ITV's new three part drama series Arthur & George, which airs in March. After conversations with friends, well-wishers and tourists while shooting on location last year, Clunes quickly realised just how … [Read more...]

Shopping Local and Shopping Sustainably

Catherine Langabeer, a member of the Barbican Sustainability Group before her recent return to New Zealand, talks us through some of the sustainability issues related to food and uses Marianne Christensen’s Geranium shop below Lauderdale Tower as an example of shopping for sustainable food items.   When out food shopping, "doing your bit" for sustainability is often seen as a matter of carrying a reusable bag. However, by far the bigger sustainability challenge is represented by what is inside the bag, the food itself. National Geographic launched its special series on the future of … [Read more...]