As a contrast to the concrete of the buildings, the architects used “earth coloured” tiles to pave the podium and other hard-paved open areas. External walls supporting the podium and the flats and houses below podium level are also faced in what are called semi-engineering bricks of the same colour and texture.
The tiles are very visible right across the estate. The podiums of north and south Barbican are paved with them. So are the hard-paved areas below podium level, such as the forecourts of Lauderdale and Cromwell Towers.
The “earth coloured” bricks are not so much in evidence round the residential blocks, but the public access corridors below Frobisher Crescent are lined with them floor to ceiling, as are some external walls at street level.
Some very philosophical considerations went into the choice of surface. The tiles are meant to be the colour of earth, so as to form a visual transition in colour and texture between the natural colours of grass, trees and plants and the stone grey of the buildings. Not only is it transitional visually, but it is transitional technologically – between the natural and the man-made world – and historically – between the old City and the new Barbican.