The First Barbican Baby

(interview with Valerie Healey transcribed by Helen Hudson) We moved into Andrewes House in 1969. Our second flat was in Willoughby House but due to my ill health at the time the stairs over the four level flat proved too much. We moved from there to Lauderdale Tower and after some time, and largely by accident, we noticed that for the same rent (the apartments were still rented at this time) there was a very large flat duplex flat at the end of Ben Jonson House.  It had larger bedrooms than our tower block flat which suited us better at the time so we decided to go with that one.  It … [Read more...]

Our Concrete Utopia – Revisited

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 2016 edition of N for Norwegian, the in flight magazine for Norwegian Air Shuttle.  With the 50th Anniversary of the first residents moving into the estate it is worth revisiting this view of how an outsider views the finished product. 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 … [Read more...]

Barbican Life – The First 15 Years

Barbican resident Lawrence Williams recounts the founding and 15 years of editing of this magazine which has built up from an initial 32 page plus covers issue back in  March 2004 to a much larger, and ever more profitable, version nowadays. The Barbican Estate residential complex may have reached its 50th year of occupancy, but Barbican Life magazine has only been going for 16 of these years, and is now being edited by the second editorial incumbent, Helen Hudson, who took over from me at the beginning of this year.  15 years is probably sufficient time to remain in post, but in my … [Read more...]

Liveries unmasked

Helen Hudson unravels the mysteries of the City’s Livery Companies and Guilds and the origins and history behind the formation of these venerable City institutions.   The impressive main staircase at the Goldsmiths' Company Hall decorated for Christmas First of all, let me get this important item out there if you are looking for quirky Christmas gifts: the City and Livery website sells a drawn and decorated jigsaw puzzle map of livery halls in the City costing £30. That done, I’m going to go back to the basics on livery companies, selfishly, for my benefit, but hopefully … [Read more...]

New Era for the Charterhouse

Barbican residents should perhaps be well aware of the nearby historical and architectural gem which is the Charterhouse. It is now entering a new era with the appointment of its first female ‘Master’ and has begun to admit women to the residential almshouse for the first time. The Charterhouse is steeped in history and many of the people associated with it jump out of the pages of school history books. It was originally built as a chapel and hermitage next to a Black Death plague pit in the mid 14th Century, but in 1371 it was granted as the basis for a Carthusian monastery, which gave it … [Read more...]

The Barbican Estate

Former Barbican resident, Stefi Orazi is marking the 50th Anniversary of the first residents moving into the estate, with a new book, due out in October, which is a comprehensive guide to the estate and includes detailed plans for each of the 140 different flat and house types, along with beautiful photography of the building’s exteriors and interiors by Christoffer Rudquist. Stefi has interviewed Barbican residents and employees, past and present, giving a rare insight into how life on the Estate has changed over the decades. Stefi Orazi I remember very vividly the first time I … [Read more...]

Fire Brigade exercise in Cromwell Tower

Jane Smith, Chair of the Barbican Association,  reports on the recent Fire Brigade high rise training exercise conducted in Cromwell Tower  I once said one of the highlights of being chair of the Barbican Association was the opportunity to see unusual things. That was when I witnessed a Crossrail tunnel boring machine on its journey under the Barbican. My latest unusual thing was observing a training exercise by London Fire Brigade at Cromwell Tower. This had been planned since before the Grenfell Tower fire and was designed to give the firefighters experience of fighting a fire in a … [Read more...]

The Elizabeth Line Reaches The Barbican – and its likely benefits

Barbican resident Peter Savage updates us on the construction of the Elizabeth Line (Crossrail), which runs under the estate, and offers Barbican reidents direct access to the new rail link with stations at both the eastern (Liverpool Street/Moorgate) and western (Farringdon) ends.  Peter visted the Farringdon site to view the latest progress. Later this year we can look forward to 82,000 people a day using the new Elizabeth Line Farringdon station when it opens in December. 150,000 people a day are expected to use the Farringdon interchange to connect with the London Underground and … [Read more...]

Electric Vehicles and the Barbican

The big problem about writing an article on Electric Vehicles (EVs) is that the technology is advancing so fast and new announcements coming out of manufacturers so frequently that anything written in terms of model availability may well be completely out of date by the time the article is published.  Please bear that in mind when reading. The Tesla Model 3, the iconic EV manufacturer’s first ‘affordable’ car The Barbican, given its location on the northern edge of the City of London, would seem to be ideally placed for residents to switch to EVs provided that charging facilities can … [Read more...]

The Culture Mile

How the City sees its cultural centre growing over the next decade The Barbican Centre, with its Theatres, Galleries, Cinema and Library, is arguably the most significant cultural centre in Europe.  Perhaps what it currently lacks is a Concert Hall to match the best in the world and the development of such a concert hall is one of the driving forces behind what has now been Christened The Culture Mile.  This involves the linking of the various cultural developments in Farringdon and around the Barbican itself into a co-ordinated centre for cultural activities centred on the City of … [Read more...]