Willoughby House in the Barbican Estate


Front page of the City’s original letting brochure

Building completed

April 1971. Willoughby House was part of Phase III of the City’s building programme for the Barbican site. The contractor was John Laing Construction Limited.


Willoughby House is a terrace block which forms the eastern edge of the Barbican Estate. It runs from Speed House in the north to Andrewes House in the south. It has views over Speed Garden and the lake but it is set back somewhat from them, and looks at them over Brandon Mews. At the back, Willoughby House overlooks Britannic Tower. At the front, it overlooks the lake past the plastic domes of the Brandon Mews houses.


Like all terraces running north to south, there is a central internal corridor running down the middle of the building on each floor. In all the other north to south blocks, flats are on one side of the corridor or the other, and all their windows face either east or west. But the Barbican designers thought that the view over Moor Lane was not nice enough for living rooms. So the majority of the accommodation is planned on what they call the ”Scissors” or ”Up and Over” principle. In other words, you go “up” to your living area and then “over” (the corridor) to your bedroom area. (Alternatively you go down and under). The result is that all the living rooms of maisonettes look west over the lake and all the bedrooms face east over Moor Lane. The complexity of squeezing the typical east-west flat arrangement into a north-south building meant that flats are rarely the same.


Willoughby House contains 148 flats and maisonettes. There are 6 storeys of flats with penthouse maisonettes above. The flats are numbered 101 – 124, 201 – 204, 301 – 344, 401 – 404, 501 – 544, 601 – 604, 701 – 724.


The main entrances are on the Willoughby Highwalk.

Lifts and staircases

Corridors run from one end of the block to the other, with lifts and stairs at either end and in the centre. There is a central stairwell and lift as well..

Car parking

The car park is on several levels – 01, 02 and 03.


I am not aware of stores within the building.


Willoughby Highwalk (the section of the podium surrounding Willoughby House) is exceptionally well served with ornamental boxes of flowers and bushes. At the back of the house, there are attractive log boxes full of shrubs and bushes. At the front, the boxes have an exotic Torquay look, with palm trees and pretty flowers in the base.

List description

List description of this building issued by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (as it then was) in 2001.

“Block VII: 101-124,201-204,301-344,401-404,501-544,601-604, 701-724 Willoughby House. Flats and two-storey maisonettes. Seven storeys. Seventeen main bays, with eight wide bays and shorter end units set symmetrically either side of a central lift and stairwell, with escape doors on to the west-facing balcony, and with further lifts and stairs at either end. Each bay is made up of two units, each three varnished timber windows wide, with the right-hand window sliding opening on to balcony. Metal and glass balustrades, many with concrete planting boxes, painted undersides of balcony roof. Rooftop penthouses, with double height fully-glazed ends under rounded tops, given a white finish.”