London: Barbican Centre

I love London for many reasons- but this trip I discovered how many cultural institutions are free. The Barbican Centre especially is open very late and the facility is free for all. Not only is this an incredible architectural and urban planning project, but they have also enabled the public to access it.

The visit came with many surprises. I had a seriously hard time figuring out how to get into the Barbican Centre. I have never had to consult a map so fruitlessly so many times trying to figure this out. Maybe if I had read the website… but more so, I think its a testament to some of the urban planning- many elevated walkways, really creating a sense of space. Another surprise came with the church that is on site and also learning about the London Wall walk, with a piece on site. And of course, free as noted.

Brutalism. The style of note. The austerity of the exterior (also noted in this building at University College) did not prepare me for the blasts of intense color on the interior. The bathroom in particular being a high point of this.

I loved the winding stairways and multilevel spaces- the space feels alive and energetic. I had arrived just before a London Symphony performance (which I’ll have to catch another time) and you could sense the groupings of people spread across all dimensions of the space.

Like other buildings on this night time walk from here back to Westminster (walk 2), I truly appreciate the attention to detail of the lighting design. There was one building that I had marked on this walk but there was no thought for night and so its important to note that budget (and therefore design) isn’t always considered.

The Barbican Centre offers an architecture tour which will certainly be on my list one of the next times I’m in London. Visiting the Barbican Centre, especially, confirms my belief that London is one of the best places to study architecture- at least my instinct all those years was indeed spot on. As a teenager or college student, I would have come to the Barbican all the time!

Address: Silk St, Barbican, London EC2Y 8DS, United Kingdom

Website: ArchDaily write up