The Barbican

This painting is available as a limited edition print

Everyone has an opinion on these grade II listed blocks of flats and the associated Barbican Centre.

I don’t know anyone who is indifferent to it. Its either loved or hated. This complex was built in the 1970’s in the British Brutalist style.

It was first conceived after World War II when this part of the City of London suffered catastrophic damage during The Blitz. The initial plans were floated about in 1951 and it was built between 1965 and 1976.

Unlike many other Brutalist buildings in the UK this was not built for low-income council tenants but for well heeled bankers and other high earners.

This I think is one of the reasons why it may have survived. Many of the council blocks were poorly built and poorly maintained and were soon demolished.

Today it seems to have found its place and many have an affection for it.

The Barbican Centre

This complex of arts venues was officially opened in 1982 and, like the Barbican Estate, was designed by Peter Chamberlin, Geoffry Powell and Christoph Bon.

As getting around the complex can be confusing, there are coloured lines painted on the floor to help guide the visitor from place to place.

Why ‘The Barbican’?

The word barbican comes from the Latin Barbecana which referred to a fortified outpost or gateway. In this case a tower situated over a gate or bridge which was used for defence purposes.

The Barbican Estate and Centre was built near a Roman watch tower, which used to look over one of the gates situated in the north wall of London.

Many ancient and medieval towns and castle still have barbicans.

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