Forerunner of the Barbican

After they had designed the Golden Lane Estate, the City gave Chamberlin, Powell and Bon the job of designing the Barbican Estate. There are a number of distinctive features of Chamberlin, Powell and Bon’s philosophy of urban planning which they employed in the Golden Lane Estate (1952 – 1962), many of which are also employed in the Barbican Estate (which was on the drawing board by 1954). These features are:

  • A wide range of facilities, not just housing, on the site.
  • Obliterating the original road pattern from the site.
  • The estate looking in on itself. (This was the situation when most of the Golden Lane Estate was designed and built. This is not so evident now because the City bought the strip of land between the original estate and Goswell Road in 1955 and then built Crescent House, which looks out onto Goswell Road.)
  • Courtyards set out in formal grids.
  • Combinations of terraces to create private internal space.
  • Terraces with regular rhythms of windows.
  • Terraces on Corbusian pilotis (pillars) to allow walking beneath the buildings.
  • Spaces and the relationship between the buildings regarded as important.
  • Differentiation of public spaces and private residential areas.
  • Towers to reduce ground density.
  • Use of coloured panels. (This was also a feature the Barbican design till the early 1960s, when textured concrete replaced them.)
  • Use of bush-hammered concrete. This was used on the facades of Crescent House (completed in 1962) and later replaced the original plan for marble facings on the Barbican buildings.