The Adelphi

“The old Adelphi was a complex example of the application of this principle of separating traffic on different levels.”

Chamberlin Powell and Bon, 1959 Report to the City Corporation.

‘The old Adelphi Terrace, showing podium treatment and traffic circulation on different levels.’

One of the sources of ideas for the Barbican estate which Chamberlin Powell and Bon cite in their 1959 report is ‘the old Adelphi’. This was a building built by Robert Adams and his brothers in 1764, almost on the banks of the Thames in London.

The four Adams brothers, and particularly Robert, were famous architects of the period. Although mainly famous for their work on interiors, they were also fascinated by creative town planning.

The Adelphi was demolished in 1936, but photographs and plans remained which the architects referred to. They included a photograph in their report. The interest to them was that the Adelphi was a large-scale development for its time, with a high-level terrace for the residents and visitors. Below were separate levels for different uses and types of property including streets.