Clusters of flats in the Barbican Estate

Clusters of flats are found in John Trundle Court and Breton House. This configuration is unique to the North Barbican area. Several flats are clustered round each lift and stair unit.

The blocks are built similarly to north-south terraces in the South Barbican area (Defoe, Andrewes, Thomas More and Speed Houses) in that there are separate lift and staircase units at regular stages along the terrace. Flats open onto a small landing leading to one lift and staircase unit. But in those north-south terraces around the lake in the south, there are only two flats per floor opening onto a particular lift and staircase unit. In John Trundle Court and Breton House however, instead of two flats, there are three or four flats using the one lift and staircase. A ‘cluster’ of flats is how I describe them to distinguish this type of layout from the ‘side-to-side’ or ‘front-to-back’ description which I apply to the two usual configurations of flats in the south.

Since each segment of the terrace has its own lift and staircase which serve several facing flats per floor, this design means that lift maintenance costs are greater per flat in John Trundle Court and Breton House  than in east-west terraces such as Ben Jonson House and Bunyan Court where there fewer lifts because flats can be accessed off a corridor right through the building, so they only need lifts at each end of the block or at longer intervals along the block.