modern architecture london
modern architecture london

Barbican Estate

Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, 1965-76
Housing estate | Barbican EC2

The Barbican Estate was built in an area of London that had been almost completely demolished by bombing during the second world war. The decision to build new residential properties was not taken until 1957 and the estate was built between 1965 and 1976.

The estate consists of 13 blocks and three 42 story high residential towers. There are around 4,000 people living in 2,014 flats. The Barbican complex also contains an arts centre, public library, the City of London School for Girls, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Museum of London.

There is no car access within the estate and the buildings are grouped around green squares and a lake. Pedestrian access throughout the estate is provided by a walkway which is raised above the level of the surrounding streets, know as the 'podium'.

The image is intended to help explain how much of the Barbican is arranged vertically.

  • Most public access and circulation around the site is via the 'podium', which is a pedestrian-only walkway raised above ground level.
  • Pillars lift the main accomodation blocks above the podium, leaving the podium free for circulation.
  • In the blocks, a number of floors are taken up with the regular flats.
  • On the top levels of the block, there are penthouse flats which have a different layout, often being spread over 2 or more floors.
  • There is also accomodation below the podium.
  • There is some public access at ground level, but much of this space is used for private gardens accessible only by residents.
Barbican Estate