Beginning of spring term meant the beginning of our last set of projects. The first of which was the tutor briefs, involving a range of tasks to choose from set by the tutors on our course. I chose one about telling a story of a place, and the Barbican was my place of choice. I had been to the Barbican once prior to choosing it as my destination to create. Before that I’d never heard of the place, and when I visited last November it looked like it had been left to nature with plants taking over these big concrete structures. It was beautiful, a real concrete jungle, like an urban Jurassic Park. What amazed me further was the silence. If you know London, you’ll know it’s anything but silent, yet this seems to be a sanctuary right in the centre of the city. Completely pedestrianised. The third thing that struck me was how difficult it was to access. Although after a quick google of the word Barbican it cleared that complication up.
Barbican – the outer defence of a castle or walled city.
After finally finding my way to the centre through a series of stairwells and high walks that took me in circles, the area was so secluded I felt like I wasn’t meant to be there. Everyone around seemed to know the way through the concrete walk ways, which had run rings around me (or rather I’d been running rings through them getting lost!). Still this feeling of imposing on a place that I wasn’t meant to be in was nagging at me; perhaps it was the sense of it being hidden inside concrete walls, or being in such a residential area, perhaps both.
It’s a unique place, and a brilliant concept when you discover the history and architectural strategies that went into creating this space. It’s purpose to build a community that inspires itself and creates a life of exploration and meaning, for citizens who have a mundane 9-5 job in the city. As well as the arty types and the music lovers, a place to live and grow. I adore the ideals created in the Barbican back in the 70’s. Taking a bombed-out store house site and turning it into a housing estate that was to be the most amazing estate ever, perhaps it was. For Londoners at the time it was revolutionary. The Barbican estate complete with a cinema, theatre, art centre, music college, primary school, secondary schools for girls and a grammar school for boys. All things placed to give a structure to free people to live purpose filled lives.
Hopefully this gives a depth to my project and why I decided to explore this wonderful place.