10 March 2008

The Barbican

Walked through the Barbican Centre this afternoon. A building complex that was voted as the ugliest in London by a poll conducted by Grey London in 2003. Though this might be quiet clich coming from an architect - I think that it was an unfair judgment to a project of this scale and ambition.
The project is a very particular product of a moment in the history of this city.. it is a outcome of a way of reasoning, rhetoric and passion that is unknown today! Though I agree that it is quiet difficult to navigate its labyrinthic street and multi levels but at some level I think that is the point.It is not merely a project for the city.. it is infact the city itself ..
with multiple layers and meaning .. of streets and hierarchies..
In its own right its a heroic project..
Parts of the project remind me of the great renderings of the Hugh Ferris (an artist/architect who worked in the early 20th century in New York making many a great images of the skyscrapers of Manhattan)
The project was designed by a trio of architecture professors - Chamberlin, Powell and Bon - starting in 1957
Most tour operators functioning in the city explain to tourist that the 60s was a period when London decided to build ugly buildings.. If these are ugly buildings then London surely may be the capital of the world in this category.

But surely this is only because these buildings are so particular to a time... a time whose aesthetic is sadly now unappreciated... An aesthetic that has been erased from popular memory because of its association with fascict regimes in Europe

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