Barbican Centre – Barbican Art Gallery, London
The Barbican Centre is a multidisciplinary art center in central London, including spaces for performing and visual arts, and conference halls.
The center is located in the Barbican Estate premises, a 35-acres urban complex within the City of London built in the 1960s and 1970s after a design by British architectural firm Chamberlin, Powell & Bon.
The complex consists of three 404-foot-high towers, 14 shorter residential and mixed-use buildings, an underground parking garage, and three public squares. The architecture of the Barbican is a good example of the Brutalist style, quite common (though not universally appreciated) in England at the time, characterized by a massive aesthetic and by the use of “solid” materials typical of that style in Britain, such as raw concrete, natural stone (mostly Yorkstone), oak wood, and steel.
Along with the Barbican Centre, the complex also includes the Museum of London and two schools. The estate is served by a dedicated station of the London Underground transport network.
Barbican Centre, London, a cross section through the main concert hall from the original project designed in the late 1950s-early 1960s by architects Chamberlin, Powell & Bon.
The Barbican Estate with the “Cromwell” tower. Photo Jay Springett.
The Barbican Centre comprises two art galleries, a 2,000-seat concert hall, a 1,300-seat main theater, a 200-seat theater, 3 cinemas, 2 trade exhibition halls, 7 conference halls, a public library, a conservatory with tropical plants and exotic fish, 3 restaurants, and 4 cafes.
The art center was significantly refurbished between 2003 and 2016, after a design by architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris.
The Barbican Art Gallery and The Curve
The center also includes a well-known art gallery, The Barbican Art Gallery, which organizes and hosts major exhibitions of modern and contemporary visual arts, design, fashion, and architecture. Opened in 1982, the gallery is a double-height open space with balconies suitable for the display of different types of artwork, from small paintings to large-scale installations.
Another exhibition space, The Curve, is aimed to present works and site-specific installations by emerging contemporary artists from all over the world.
Barbican Art Gallery, the entrance on Silk St.; photo courtesy of Mindseye Lighting Ltd.
Barbican Art Gallery, interior; photos courtesy of Allford Hall Monaghan Morris.
The “Bauhaus Art as Life” exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery, 2012, installation view. Photo Luke Hayes.
The exhibition “The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945”, 2017, installation view. Photo Marc Colson.
The exhibition “The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined”, 2017, installation view. Photo © Michael Bowles / Getty Images.
Barbican Curve Gallery, Momentum by United Visual Artists, 2014, installation view. Photo © Bethany Clark/Getty, courtesy of Barbican Art Gallery
Cover image, a view of the Barbican Estate in London looking south; in the background, the London Eye and the River Thames. Photo Jack Torcello