The Barbican Estate is Built

Work on the buildings began in 1963. The Barbican terraces blocks and towers were built over the period from 1964 to 1975. The construction of the Barbican Arts Centre came later – it was not completed until 1982.

In 1963 the scheme ran into a technical problem. The London County Council had recently passed bye-laws requiring all kitchens to have windows or equivalent ventilation. The Barbican kitchens had deliberately been designed without windows. Many did not have ventilation. A deal was struck. What had previously been called kitchens, became ‘cooking areas’ and part of the living room, for the purpose of the regulations, and they were passed by the London County Council.

Other changes were introduced to the original 1959 scheme.

The architects changed their design of the exterior of the buildings from polished concrete or ceramic material, to rough concrete.

The Barbican estate, as eventually built, employed concrete in a much more monumental way than was envisaged in the comparatively delicate designs in the 1959 Report. There were other changes before the final look was achieved.

The design of the towers underwent changes after 1959.