The 1955 Scheme

“A dense chequerboard of low blocks and small courtyards”

A comment on the 1955 plan in “The Buildings of England”, Nikolaus Pevsner and Simon Bradley

Chamberlin, Powell & Bon’s commission in 1954 only included the south Barbican. (It excluded the area north of Beech Street where the blocks from John Trundle Court to Ben Jonson House stand). They were asked to design housing for 5,000 residents, typically young professionals, likely to have “a taste for Mediterranean holidays, French food and Scandinavian design”.

They submitted their first proposals to the Corporation of London in 1955. Their scheme proposed huge office blocks with clusters of dwellings huddled round courtyards.

The whole development was to sit inside a ring of high office blocks. There would be apartments to house 300 persons per acre, 60 shops, 6 pubs, 4 restaurants, an exhibition hall, a swimming pool and squash courts. St Giles’ church was to be the centre and the buildings would be arranged in groups around it.

There was to be a shopping arcade running from Barbican station to St Giles’ church. The flats were to be in 4-storey buildings clustered together round small courtyards, like the Inns of Court. The exhibition hall, swimming pool and squash courts were to be grouped together in one building shaped like a decapitated pyramid.