Arts Centre Renewal Project

Barbican Arts Centre Renewal

Deputy Mark Bostock and BA Chairman Adam Hogg had an introductory meeting with Simon Fraser, Allies and Morrison and Asif Khan of Asif Khan Studio who have been appointed to deliver the renewal project.

Our objective was to establish links between Barbican Residents and the design team, express the initial thoughts of the BA renewal group and to explore how best to ensure that residents’ interests could be incorporated in the process.

We stressed that the Arts Centre was part of the Barbican Estate and should not be considered in isolation and that residents were unlikely to be seeking major changes.

Francis Pugh, Gilbert House resident, is taking the design team on a tour of the estate to enable them to see it from the residents’ perspective.

We agreed that it would be appropriate to set up meetings with residents in the early autumn to develop a dialogue.

We understand that they have incorporated the future of Beech Street into the project.

The submission the BA renewal group had made to the Arts Centre earlier on this year was shared with the design team and is set out below:

Arts Centre renewal – the residents’ view

We welcome it – residents want the arts centre to continue to be world class, with a rich and diverse programme that attracts diverse audiences

We ask you to remember:

*There’s a lot that is right with the arts centre at the moment. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it

* That the arts centre is fully integrated with the residential estate, with residential blocks, the Centre, GSMD, Milton Court and Beech Street buildings such as cinemas, catering facilities and exhibition halls all interconnected.

*That the estate is a carefully designed iconic piece of urban design: respect the architecture and original design intentions and don’t upset the balance of the neighbourhood.

*The spaces, including major vistas between and under buildings are of equal importance to the buildings themselves. So too are the roofscapes, the architect’s 5th facade.

*That the centre of the estate is one of the most tranquil places in the City of London – and that is one of the features that makes it liveable

*The lakes and the lakeside are important features of the Barbican Estate – restore the lakes and fountains and maintain them

The design of the Centre means that the arts activities within the building create very little disturbance for neighbours. Please don’t increase noise and light pollution.

Currently, some of the restaurants/events spaces cause disturbance because of thin glazing and out of date mechanical and engineering services: these need to be brought up to current standards to remove nuisance and improve energy efficiency

Management of the public outside the building is an issue for residents: they need to be well managed throughout the day and night.

Specific existing points of irritation

The service road off Silk Street – causes noise nuisance to Gilbert House

The failure of the lake pumping and water aeration system has resulted in the loss of the lakeside fountains and deterioration in water quality in hot weather. It has also led to the loss of ‘white noise’ which helped mask extraneous sounds, as well as mitigating the urban heat island effect.

The Yellow Shed on Ben Jonson Highwalk – destroys an important vista along the whole Highwalk and its removal has been promised for years

The closure of the Frobisher Crescent Highwalk when the Centre is closed – restricts residents’ access across the estate


Make more of the Conservatory – and open it to the public more often

Keep the main entrance in Silk Street

Keep the library in the complex – it encourages footfall

Bring back evening music to the foyers

Have a prominent box office and information point

Steer heavy footfall on the Highwalk away from immediately above sub-podium flats

Provide plentiful electric vehicle charging points in car parks

Make the the balconies more biodiverse and visually interesting. Similarly the planting on Frobisher Crescent and the entire length of the Lakeside Terrace

Establish consistently high standards of design for all furniture, signage and temporary installations, within and outside the Centre. Ensure these standards are maintained and not eroded by ad-hoc interventions.

Once you’ve renewed the Centre, make sure it’s always well maintained.

1 comment

  1. How are residents going to be involved in this process? I would like to see a timetable of regular presentations to residents and wider public with opportunity to feedback.

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