If you’ve ever been anywhere even close to East London, chances are you will have seen or stumbled upon the Barbican Estate. From far away it might look a bit outdated, and even a little ugly, but step inside the winding corridors and you find one of the finest examples of brutalist architecture in the world.
The Barbican Estate was designed as a utopian city within a city, where people could live comfortably despite high population density. Even the name ‘Barbican’ is derived from the Latin word ‘Barbecana’, meaning ‘fortified’. One of the most important features of the design was the ban on cars within the complex. The architects wanted to prioritise pedestrians within the complex, serving as a stark contrast to the busy world outside. With shops, schools and even a cinema, you can stay within the raised complex for days without hitting the pavement. The estate was built in the 1960s and 70s after the area was heavily bombed in WW2. Its three 42-story tower blocks were the tallest residential buildings in London at the time they were built. The Queen opened the project in 1982, describing brutalism as ‘one of the modern wonders of the world’.
In this case, the pictures really do speak for themselves. Make sure to look into the windows of flats, as they’re also made in a very unique and interesting way. Unfortunately, the flats don’t go cheaply these days. A flat in the complex will likely run you upwards of £1M. The best most of us can do (for now) is take a peek through the windows facing into the courtyard.
A visit to the Barbican Estate isn’t complete without checking out one of the many local attractions within the complex. Among the best are the Museum of London and the Barbican Arts Centre. One of the most visited attractions on site is the conservatory, a tropical oasis that is home to over 2000 species of plants. The conservatory is only open on Sundays, so plan your visit accordingly. You can even treat yourself to afternoon tea among the plants!
If you’re thinking of paying a visit to the Barbican, check out our interview with our friend Ana, who told us about why the Barbican is her favourite place in all of London and gave some great suggestions for what to do while you’re there.
Visit the Barbican Estate at Silk St, London EC2Y 8DS
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