Sunday, June 13, 2010

Get thee to the Barbican

I had a special treat on Friday when one of my colleagues took me and my team to The Barbican for lunch. For non-Londoners, The Barbican is a 1960s-era housing complex in between Clerkenwell and The City. It's regarded as one of the UK's most successful urban communities, and a testament to poured concrete architecture, but it's also damn ugly. I've walked, run, rode, driven past it thousands of times and vaguely thought about how there is a cinema and theatre inside, but ended up reestablishing just how cold and forbidding it looks. So when a colleague suggested our team head over there to get lunch and see an exhibit, I was curious as to what just lay inside the imposing towers.

Well! The Barbican is totally worth the inevitability that you will get lost while wandering through its lanes. It is a massive housing complex that has a cultural center inside, with art galleries, cinema, theatre, restaurants, bars, and just really cool spaces. There is a man-made lake with a terrace where you can sit and gaze on St Giles church. The whole experience reminded me of the old Tomorrow Land in Disney World, but with a much better end result.

And the exhibit? Totally awesome. John Bock is mental - I loved his creation of pod living spaces and a transportable home that takes the Clampetts overburdened vehicle to the next imaginary level. His attention to detail in decorating his living spaces and fashioning living basics made the whole exhibit more of anthropological extrapolation than a work of art, though he apparently enters his pods at certain points in the day and interacts with the audience which I would love to see.

So if you find yourself in The City and fancy a cup of coffee and some culture, wander to the Barbican. I guarantee that you'll find it both amazing and (literally) impossible to escape.

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