“Bathrooms and, particularly in this estate, kitchens are in use during only a short part of the day (much of which is, in any case, after dark) so that it is no great drawback for these rooms to depend on artificial light. They will all be equipped with a forced extract ventilating system which is more efficient than normal window ventilation.”

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

flat 1b shower

Original fittings

The walls and floors of Barbican bathrooms were all tiled. Sanitary ware and pipes were built on site and a carcass was built round ducts and pipes, and also tiled.

The water heater

In flats which still retain the original features, a thermostatically controlled water heater supplies the bathroom, toilet, hand-rinse and shower room. The heater holds 136 or 182 litre of water and has a 3 kW heating element. When the supply runs cold, it takes 3 hours to heat up again.


Single voltage shaver sockets were supplied in each bathroom (and in the shower area of larger flats). Dual voltage outlets can be substituted. There are unwired conduits in the bathroom leading back to the electricity distributor boards. One is high up to allow for the installation of an infra-red heater, and one is low down to allow for a heated towel rail to be installed.


The Barbican Estate’s printed advice to residents was that in the event of an overflow from the toilet cistern, the water will drain down the gulley in the bathroom floor and should be allowed to run away freely. O brave new world!