The Mix of Flats

“The intention has been to encourage a balanced population of a truly resident nature with loyalties and interest in the City, not to provide a large number of pieds-a-terre.”

“Messrs Goddard and Smith have given their opinion that for reasons of management small flats should not for preference be situated in the same blocks as the large ones.”

Chamberlin, Powell & Bon, Architects “Barbican Redevelopment” April 1959

The Barbican estate was built to let. So who did the Corporation expect to let to? According to the Corporation’s Housing Manager at the time the largest number of enquiries about flats in the proposed estate were from: “single people, many of them in relatively junior positions in City firms”.

You may smell just a whiff of the class system in Goddard and Smith’s recommendation that small flats should not be in the same blocks as large ones. They probably took it for granted that stockbrokers in five bedroomed flats should not have to share lifts with their book keepers.

As a result, the larger flats are in the south Barbican area, while in the Northern area most of the flats are one-room or two-room types.

The Corporation wanted to encourage a balanced resident population, with families and married couples, as well as single people. So although the Corporation’s research showed that the greatest potential demand was from junior City workers, only 4% of the 2,014 dwellings built are one-room flats. 40% have three rooms , 26% have two rooms, 22% have four rooms, and 8% have five rooms.