London’s centre of Brutalist architecture. The challenge to capture a glimpse of its life on film is why I always return.
London is littered with areas that seem like worlds within worlds; areas that bare no relation to their surroundings, that appear to have materialized out of thin air. But no area is so impressively unique or has had such an impact on the London skyline as the Barbican Estate.
The Barbican is a prime example of the brutality architecture favored in Britain after the Second World War. The site it sits on was virtually demolished during bombing campaigns, and this grim event is reflected in the cold hard gray concrete used to construct the estate. The ‘image’ one thinks of when thinking of the Barbican is of the massive 42-storey towers, though the estate itself contains 13 terrace blocks, lakes, green squares and a labyrinth of pedestrian passageways connecting it all – not to mention the Barbican Centre, a cultural centre for the arts, cinema, theatre and music that hosts many of London’s most prodigious and interesting events.
Although 4000 live within the estate, it is rare to see more than a handful of people walking around, and even those tend to be visitors to the Barbican Centre. This, along with the weaving concrete passageways and stairwells, and the fact that there is no traffic within the estate, shrouds the area in a slightly bleak air of mystery. The silence can sometimes be deafening… as though a thousand eyes are watching you unseen from the towers above. And yet this discomfort is what draws me back time and again. The Barbican lives and breathes, and the challenge to capture a glimpse of its life on film is why I always return.