The Barbican Centre is a performing arts centre in the Barbican Estate of the City of London and the largest of its kind in Europe.[ The Centre hosts classical and contemporary music concerts, theatre performances, film screenings and art exhibitions. It also houses a library, three restaurants, and a conservatory.
The London Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra are based in the Centre’s Concert Hall. In 2013, it once again became the London-based venue of the Royal Shakespeare Company following the company’s departure in 2001 .
The Barbican Centre is owned, funded, and managed by the City of London Corporation, the third-largest arts funder in the United Kingdom. It was built as The City’s gift to the nation at a cost of £161 million and was officially opened to the public by Queen Elizabeth II on 3 March 1982. The Barbican Centre is also known for its brutalist architecture.
The Barbican Centre had a long development period, only opening long after the surrounding Barbican Estate housing complex had been built. It is situated in an area which was badly bombed during World War II.
The Barbican Centre, designed by Peter Chamberlin, Geoffry Powell and Christoph Bon in the Brutalist style, has a complex multi-level layout with numerous entrances. Lines painted on the ground help would-be audience members avoid getting lost on the walkways of the Barbican Housing Estate on the way to the centre. The Barbican Centre’s design – a concrete ziggurat – has always been controversial and divides opinion. It was voted “London’s ugliest building” in a poll in September 2003 .
Outside, the main focal point of the centre is the lake and its neighbouring terrace.
Between all this Brutalism sits St Giles’ Cripplegate church – one of the few remaining medieval churches in the City of London. It is thought that there has been a church on this spot for one thousand years. We know nothing about the early Saxon church, which was probably a little chantry or chapel made of wattle and daub, but in 1090, a Norman church stood on this site .
For me , walking through the Barbican Center was different and interesting experience . The building is not the most beautiful you could see in London, but maybe that makes it unique . For people like me, living in Eastern Europe, brutalist architecture isn’t anything new or unseen but at least we can understand that our ugly living estates were found modern and beautiful style in architecture at some point .
On this map you can see the location of the Barbican, but keep in mind that finding the entrances is a little tricky . There are a lot of stairs, levels and hidden gateways to look for.