Modern Architecture and the Modern City- Barbican, London

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  • Topic: City of London, Barbican Centre, Aldersgate
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  • Published : April 20, 2013
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Modern Architecture and the Modern City-
Barbican, London

Chamberlin, Powel and Bon had very little experience being architects, after giving up teaching at Kingston University, they formed a partnership to tackle the challenge of the Barbican project. Between 1954 and 1968 Chamberlin, Powel and Bon (CP & B) created four finished plans which was later modified to a further fifth plan. However with the complexity of the scheme seven official plans were drawn up over this time. With each plan being more complex then the previous, the London vision was at their palm. Chamberlin, Powell and Bon had many visions and ideas towards the reconstruction and redevelopment of the rubble pile caused by the Blitz. By 1953 a proposal for the redevelopment was made, with the increase of lives being claimed by chocking on smog it had been proposed that the City should become a residential district and potentially house the professional classes. In 1959 Chamberlin Powell and Bon (CP&B) decided that the first plans for the Barbican were ready to be submitted, for a residential tower block which till today remain the tallest in Europe. Nearly all main principles of modernism can be found at the Barbican spanning from open-plan flats, the idea of general provision for car ownership and importantly open spaces for pedestrianization

Before CB & B designed plans for the post war site, London City already had an existing but very complex plans. In the 1930’s engineers Sir Charles Ressery and Lytyens designed plans for the City of London. With a futuristic (at the time) infrastructure and visions of monumental buildings, modern ring roads and a brand new underground system which now has become an integral part of London life.

Another key proposal was made and it was to add an arts centre with in the Barbican area, more over this was a remarkable plan considering the fact that the country had only freed its citizens from rationing in 1954. taking into consideration that Britain was facing financial difficulties through the 1950’s it was unusual that the Corporation of London even invited the idea of a capital expenditure such as the Barbican. In fact only a few ambitious Londoners drove this project to its peak. However in the plans to redevelop this area oppositions such as, why would city professionals want to live in the chaos of the city? and wouldn’t the city benefit more from office revenue further more London council who strongly opposed of the housing development initially proposed a zone purely for offices and commercial premises.

The Barbican area covers 40 acres which were divided into two smaller areas known as, Area 2 and 4 North off route 11 at the time. The failure of Bridge water square housing development and the zoning (known as the nature of the area space used pre war rather than the form of buildings, e.g. office space and minor manufacturing etc) was later seen as reason for the Barbican housing development not to be approved. The key ideas which helped develop Barbican was thinking of what people and city workers actually needed and the wider picture. This concluded that at the time 5000 executives would travel into london by car but the other half a million people would use public transport. The idea of pedestrianization was a key, some of the underground stations were not suitable to take the capacity around the Barbican proposal sight, therefore they were altered to suit the site.

Brutalism; is a movement which grew in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The movement’s was pushed forward by a husband and wife team of Peter and Alison Smithson in Britain, where world famous Le Corbusier’s ideas were being expressed world wide.

The Smithsons were strong to inherit the most rememberable aspects of the modernism movement of Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe and many other ideologists, this was to save British Modernism from other concepts.

The term ‘Brutalism’ could be taken the wrong way, it suggests the types of buildings as...
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