Barbican Arts Centre

The Barbican Arts Centre is the full name. We usually just refer to it as the Barbican Centre. The Barbican Centre costs the Corporation of London more than £20 million a year. It contains the Barbican Hall for concerts, the Barbican Theatre and the Pit Theatre for plays, an art gallery, and a cinema (with two more in Beech Street).

Car parking

There are four car parks, confusingly numbered 2,3,4 and 5. The entrances for 2 and 3 are off Silk St (near Barbican entrance) and for 4 and 5, off Beech St (but only when travelling in westward direction). They all close at 12 a.m. Car parks 4 and 5 always open at 6 a.m. Car parks 2 and 3 open at 7 a.m. most days; 9 a.m. Saturdays and bank holidays; and 10 a.m. Sundays.

Parking is free for disabled people with an orange/blue badge. It sounds a little complicated to arrange. You should get some help and advice in advance from the House Management Department on 7382 7021. Car park 3 off Silk St has 11 wide car bays for cardholders, with access to the Barbican’s main lifts. Car park 5 also has wide bays, but less effective access to the Barbican. The others have no facilities.

Conservatory

Who had the brilliant idea of plonking the conservatory on the top of the Barbican Arts Centre? It isn’t in the ‘Barbican Redevelopment 1959’ plan which contained the final designs for the Barbican. Well, whoever you were I raise a glass to you. It’s another of those eccentric elements which make the Barbican.

The Barbican Conservatory opened in 1984. It’s a tropical enclosure full of exotic flora, pools, walkways and fountains. It contains a variety of temperate and semi-tropical plants. You may recognise some of your house plants, but on a vast scale. (You will know how Alice felt when she drank the first bottle.) In 1986 they added an Arid House with cacti and one plant called ‘Fred’ which is the largest Carnegiea gigantea in Europe, and was donated by the Mayor of Salt Lake City. There used to be finches in an aviary and fish and terrapins in the ponds.

Apparently instead of chemicals they rely on natural predators and pathogens to keep down pests.