In­side the Bar­bican’s hid­den world

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

Beatriz Gar­cia Elorza has lived in the Bar­bican since 1972, but she still chuck­les at a car­toon her late hus­band clipped from Pri­vate Eye more than 25 years ago. It shows a con­cerned cit­i­zen at the miss­ing per­son bureau of a po­lice sta­tion. “Have you tried the Bar­bican?” asks the of­fi­cer. Does she ever get lost, af­ter al­most 50 years? “Some­times,” she ad­mits with a grin.

You get the feel­ing that for the Bar­bican’s 6,000 res­i­dents, los­ing the odd visi­tor is a small price to pay for liv­ing in one of Lon­don’s most sought-af­ter ad­dresses. It’s now 50 years since res­i­dents moved into the Bar­bican, with Speed House – where Gar­cia Elorza lives – the first block com­pleted. Af­ter the area, then known as Crip­ple­gate, was flat­tened in the Blitz, the City of Lon­don saw an op­por­tu­nity to build some­thing ex­cit­ing. The old street plan was re­placed with ter­races, cres­cents and tow­ers, as well as schools, lakes, two pri­vate gar­dens, a con­ser­va­tory and an arts cen­tre, all linked by el­e­vated walk­ways. The re­quired min­i­mum in­come for res­i­dents was set at a level de­signed to at­tract mid­dle-class City work­ers – and with the Cor­po­ra­tion of the City of Lon­don as land­lord, the Bar­bican would never de­te­ri­o­rate.

It took time: plan­ning be­gan in the Fifties, and when Gar­cia Elorza ar­rived al­most 20 years later, the area was still “a waste­land”, with the arts cen­tre not com­pleted un­til the Eight­ies. The es­tate was the net re­sult of dozens of

The Bar­bican es­tate has a recog­nis­able bru­tal­ist style

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