Roofs in the Barbican Estate

Chamberlin Powell & Bon did not neglect how the roofs of the various buildings would look. They believed that the downward view onto the roofs of the terrace blocks would be as important to the occupiers of tower flats as the landscaping and appearance of buildings on the podium level would be to the occupiers of terrace blocks.

The roofs are essentially flat. They are asphalted for water protection, and they are paved with concrete slabs in keeping with the wall finishes. The slabs are made of precast concrete faced with exposed pieces of Pen Lee granite aggregate.

Small flat roofs – for example those on the top of lift shafts – have a covering of concrete chippings instead.

Lift shafts and motor rooms project above roof level at intervals along the roof terrace blocks. These form a regular pattern along the roofs. So do the curving roof vaults of penthouse flats running along the front edge of the terrace blocks and which are finished in white paint. Perhaps they were making a virtue of necessity, but Chamberlin Powell & Bon claimed that these areas were designed deliberately to form an interesting visual pattern when viewed from the upper flats in the tower blocks.

It is interesting to note that the curving roof vaults of penthouse flats are one of the few design elements of the estate which have survived from the start. They made their debut on the top flats of Crescent House in the Golden Lane Estate.