Last weekend I visited the Barbican Center, the Barbican is a multi cultural art complex, designed by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon and surrounded by the Barbican Estate housing with over 2,000 apartments, it has a multi-level layout with numerous entrances. Considering the scale and the very evident Brutalist style, it is an one–off in London, that kind of love or hate building.
In the Barbican one can noticed all the big concepts of modernist architecture, the idea of benefiting society over the individual, the raw, oversized, in-your-face concrete structure, the stripped down decoration.
I was born and bread in Sao Paulo where Modernist Architecture is the rule, not just because it can be seen all over the city, but also because it is executed with a high degree of beauty and intelligence.
Why does it work in my city, but looks so out place over here that it was voted one of the ugliest buildings in London?
I once hear one English friend of mine walking through a residential area in London that was a mixture of Victorian terraced houses with modernist council flats saying: ‘you can see exactly which areas were bombed’
While Modernist Architecture in Brazil was developed as elevated art, as a way of glorified simplicity and finding a style that was sympathetic with the natural beauty of its surroundings, the same style was used in London as a straight forward way of re-building a destroyed area. So every time that you see that array of concrete your natural feeling is sadness and desolation. Never underestimated the power of association.
In my opinion It is a bit of a shame, because the building has moments of magic, it tries to be embracing and welcoming with the walkways that link all the different buildings, and I admired the pedantic way it was designed with the plain geometry of the buildings.
Anyway I could never described something of that power and scale here, it is material for a book, have a look at the links, or better, go there and see by yourself.