The Barbican 


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Architectural influences

Residential accommodation

The Barbican today

Residential Accommodation
Shakespeare Tower The return to London of men and women who had served in the Second World War exacerbated the housing problem already caused by the Blitz. It was a crisis that affected all social classes. Gradually, as the country prospered, a new generation of young professionals emerged with a taste for Mediterranean holidays, French food and Scandinavian design. When the Corporation of London set out the terms for the development of the Barbican, they instructed the architects to design housing for precisely this type of tenant.

The Barbican was seen as a residential community and even in the early plans much attention was paid to what that experience would he like. Each dwelling had its own distinguishing features that emphasised quality of space rather than a simple provision of rooms. Generous and light living spaces were designed for entertaining and the enjoyment of views. In larger flats, principal bedrooms were similarly spacious with dressing rooms and en-suite facilities, whilst kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms were more compact and functional.

The designs maximised use of space. The tower blocks were given enveloping balconies that extended every room rather than just the living room. This complemented the flexible internal space, which, by altering sliding screens, could transform a four-bed flat into a very civilised single or young couple's flat with a guest bedroom.   Thirty years on many of the apartments remain essentially as designed, although many residents knowing that kitchen and bathroom design has moved on, have upgraded their apartments.   Internal walls are generally not structural, and some residents open up large spaces by sacrificing a bedroom.  Furnishing styles vary from the post-modern to the regency. is an excellent web site from a local solicitors' practice with a wealth of information about the history of the area and daily living in the Barbican.  It also has much information about the blocks, floor plans etc.

Ben Johnson House Living room