Barbican, London

A brutalist concrete jungle casts shadows over the City of London. An ambitious community project from the 1960s oozes with character and charm.

Formerly a gateway to the London Wall, an original part of Roman Londonium. Incredibly part of the wall still survives as you walk around the complex. Population blossomed in the area during the 1850s, as did the ‘rag trade’ or textiles markets, especially at the Cripplegate end of the Barbican complex.

Devasted during World War II, the area was rebuilt in the 1960s. The idea was to populate the city, to build a community in the heart of the tragedy of the devastation. Brilliantly ambitious to create a utopian style complex in the centre of the City of London.

With its high rise walkways, the communal and private spaces, lakes and canals and its three towering blocks, it feels like a city within a city. Unique, charming and practical.

This complex divides people, either you love its brutal yet enchanting character, or you hate the perceived impersonal concrete towers. Either way, the compound is now listed and protected because of its distinctive appearance and the hope it gave to the rebirth of London in the 1960s.

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