Amongst the many cultural institutions that have made their name in London, the Barbican stands proud as one of the most diverse, influential and architecturally striking across the city. Within this East London venues, concrete walls are 8 venues and a whole labyrinthine culture to explore. From the wide array of art exhibitions, gigs, theatre events and screenings, the Barbican Centre has rejuvenated the artistic landscape of London since it opened in 1982.
Whilst many of its services may still be under lockdown, the Barbican’s legacy still thrives through online experiences and streaming services. With its proximity to East London accommodation such as the Barbican Rooms Hotel, the Barbican Centre is surprisingly well hidden amongst the financial districts and tourist hotspots. This means that there are plenty of well-kept secrets hidden within its walls and when lockdown lifts, there’ll no doubt be an influx of people wanting to explore them. Until then, however, this rundown of the Barbican will have to do.
What Is The Barbican?
The Barbican is a multi-venue arts space that incorporates everything from cinemas, concert halls, conference rooms to galleries and art installations. With one of the largest concert halls in Europe, the Barbican is famous for its international programming, community outreach and widespread influence on the cultural landscape of London.
What Can You Do At The Barbican?
The Barbican’s labyrinthine area makes space for a range of activities. Whether it’s dining at one of its three restaurants, enjoying the views from the terrace or engaging with the many forms of artistic output that are incubated, showcased and make their name there, the Barbican demands not just a day of your time, but perhaps even months.
History Of The Barbican
Based right in the heart of East London, the Barbican accommodation near the venue makes it easy to explore the rich history of the area. The Barbican Centre itself wasn’t opened until 1982 when it was designed by Chamberlain, Powell and Bon architecture firm after a long development period. In fact, the surrounding Barbican Estate into which the Barbican Centre is built into was around for almost two decades longer, showing just how complex the building process must have been.
Getting To The Barbican
Whilst it is quite difficult to get to the Barbican by car, the tube connections to the area are expansive. With Moorgate Tube Station serving the Northern Line, Hammersmith and City, Circle, District and Metropolitan Lines, as well as the Barbican Tube Station serving the latter four, there are plenty of ways to get there. Furthermore, the nearby London Liverpool Street Station has national rail connections to the East of London and England as well as Overground services and is only a 15-minute walk from the Barbican.
Facts About The Barbican
With its international fame, not everyone will know the ins and outs of the Barbican. As a huge complex of venues, the Barbican’s brutalist structure holds many secrets that you might not get a chance to learn on your first visit. Here are just some of them.
A “Gift To The Nation”
The Barbican Centre was opened as a “gift to the nation” by Queen Elizabeth II herself. In 1982, the Barbican’s arrival saw funding from the City of London Corporation and deals with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the London Symphony Orchestra, establishing it as a main player on the national arts scene and as a “modern wonder of the world”.
It Can Hold Up To 2000 People
The largest concert hall in the Barbican Centre can hold more than 1940 people and has seen stagings of classical music and modern alike. The grand yet modern scale of the Barbican Centre makes it one of the go-to venues for international artists around the world.
Its Meeting Rooms Are State Of The Art
With its huge size, the meeting rooms in the Barbican are among the most innovative in London. With conference rooms varying widely in size, the more traditional Frobisher Boardroom isn’t short of modern appliances. With speedy Internet access, smart technology and great views over the Barbican Estate, the Barbican Centre attracts more than just performers and artists into its fold, seeing business people, charities and many other organisations using its function rooms for networking, award ceremonies and celebrations.
There Are Around 2000 Plant Species In Its Conservatory
The Barbican Conservatory is one of the densest in regards to space to plant life in the country. With beautiful views over the Barbican Estate terraces, the conservatory offers a dazzling amount of tropical plants, all incubated within the warm conditions of this much sought after events space.
It’s Built Near The Famous Barbican Estate
The Barbican Estate was first planned after World war II. Much of the East London area had been devastated by the Blitz bombing and so massive redevelopment schemes were put into place. These took a while to come to fruition, but by the mid-60s’, the Barbican Estate was well underway. The Barbican Estate is famous for its ziggurat styled brutalist architecture and is a much-recorded quirk of the usually modern London architecture landscape. In fact, it is such an iconic piece of building that the Barbican Centre itself was modelled after the flats, and so retains the unique character of the area.
It’s Pedways Are A Long-Forgotten Part Of London’s Infrastructure
The pedways surrounding the Barbican are amongst some of the most unique additions to the Barbican area. These pedways give guests a chance to traverse the concrete-clad area from above and create a labyrinthine network that was originally intended to run all the way from Fleet Street to the Tower of London, but all that remains of them are the cloisters and walkways in the vicinity of the Barbican. For those looking for a unique way to see the city, these walkways and views are amongst the most intimate and lesser frequented.
The Barbican Has 3 Restaurants
There are three different restaurants in Barbican, which is unsurprising considering the scale of the complex. These are Osteria, Cote Brasserie and the Barbican Kitchen, all located just off of Silk Street and Whitecross Street.