The Barbican Centre Provides an Escape from Busy City Life

Made entirely of concrete, the Barbican Centre is a pillar of Brutalist architecture. Designed by Peter Chamberlain, Geoffry Powell and Christoph Bonn, the walls provide an escape for over 4,000 residents from the city that lies outside and provides its own community.

The Barbican features a library, a conservatory, an arts centre, restaurants, cafes and more.  It truly is it’s own city within central London. 

Brutalism is the dominant architectural style of the Barbican Centre. The brutalist style shows off how the building was built, showcasing the raw building instead of embellishing it with an alluring exterior.

While the outside of the vast and many buildings were supposed to be covered with white marble and tile, this plan eventually turned into what is now hammered concrete. During the construction of the building, the concrete was hammered by hand to create the famous Brutalist exterior. 

One of the more subtle features of the Barbican is the recurrence of the rounded, oval shapes throughout the building. The continuity adds an unexpected element throughout the complex building, seemingly tying together the expansive estate.

This can be seen in the upside-down U-shaped windows and oval-shaped air vents. While the centre itself is very complex, the fine details allow it to have some sort of cohesion while also keeping it interesting. 

If you are interested in Barbican’s architecture and its history, book an architecture tour via their website.

Photo: Xixi Zheng