Sunday, 7 March 2010

_My New Favourite Treat

_In the current freezing cold yet sunny climate we are having - getting wrapped up, picking up my camera and going to get lost in Londons Barbican.

Like the legendary Phoenix, the Barbican rose from the ashes caused by bombing during the Second World War. The idea of the centre was born in the 1960s, an era of renewed optimism and fresh ideas, and an exciting time for the arts. New architectural styles were emerging, including the ‘brutalism’ that characterises the Barbican as a whole. The concept of the centre grew organically – for example, what was originally intended to be a small recital room evolved into the large Barbican Hall we have today.

The construction did not begin in earnest until 1971. Indeed, it came close to not happening at all. The City of London’s Court of Common Council spent its longest sitting on record deciding whether or not to proceed with the project. The architects, Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, were appointed initially to design the residential areas. While they produced an interesting plan, it became apparent that they had never before designed even a cinema, let alone a theatre or concert hall. Their proposals for the cinema included placing the screen on the ceiling and having the first few rows of the audience lying on their backs on what looked like a series of beds. The final cost of building the centre was £156 million; to build it today would require a staggering £500 million.

Easily my favourite building in London.

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