The Barbican estate prompts mixed feelings. “The 1950s and early 1960s were generally acknowledged as the worst period of the century for London architecture,” writes Jerry White in London in the 20th Century. By its end, “only the Barbican, its first plans published in 1956 and built between 1959 and 1979, still impressed by the self-confidence of its vision; but its segregation from neighbouring areas and its alienating and confusing deck access made even this an equivocal success,” White concludes.
But whatever your feelings for it, the estate still serves as a monument to some of the bolder and nobler post-war municipal housing ambitions. I’ve found two excellent short film appreciations of it. The first is from the Architecture Foundation.
The second is from the Barbican’s neighbour, the Museum of London.
Europe’s largest reconstruction project. A vision of London as a futuristic city. And just to underline the point, try this gem from the London Metropolitan Archives, made in 1969, if you have 22 minutes to spare.
Jerry White is a friend of this website.