Rounded forms

” … the dominant motif is the semi-circular curve, employed inverted in the sills of the podium windows, and echoed in white painted canopies to the top flats. These have glazed ends lighting double-height interiors – clear derivations from the post-War work of Le Corbusier, whose all-encompassing planning and architecture of extreme mass are prevailing influences. More rounded forms in the cascade spout and circular stands in the lake, the fountains on its edge, and the various big vents and stair towers scattered across the podium.”

“The Buildings of England” Nikolaus Pevsner and Simon Bradley


We are fairly familiar with curved arches in town buildings, so you may not particularly notice the curved white roofs over the windows of penthouse flats in the terrace blocks. But one of the most striking and attractive design features of the Barbican is the inverted semicircle. And perhaps the most striking example are the U-shaped windows of garden flats in Andrewes House, where the windows appear to be built upside down with beautiful curved sills. Since they line the lake, they appear to be the (traditional) right way up only in reflection.

This upside down circular arch appears everywhere, when you look out for it. There are walls in the outside of the Barbican Centre which contain huge ventilation grilles in U-shaped frames, carefully constructed in specially tapered bricks and tiles.