Barbican: Penthouse Over the City

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Penthouse Over the City sheds light on one of the most ambitious, and controversial, architectural undertakings of the last century; the Barbican Estate.

This leviathan project, with its futuristic vision and Byzantine intricacy included, in its final incarnation, the highest apartments in Europe, an underground railway and an arts centre composed of a theatre, concert hall, art galleries, cinemas and a library.

Its grand-scale conception included elements drawn from the rustication of Florentine palaces, the water and walkways of Venice, the elegant squares of Georgian London and the high-rise designs of the U.S.

Today, the cultural and architectural communities are re-assessing the site's significance in light of the achievement it represents. To its residents, Barbican living is an addiction. Its story spans decades or changing ideologies and tastes, and this book tells its full story for the first time.

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From the Back Cover:

The Barbican Estate is one of the most berated and beloved architectural projects in London. Taking over 20 years to complete from its inception in 1963, it was widely condemned in the 1980s for its acreage of relentless concrete and lack of clear entrances. Since then, however, it has inspired passion and enthusiasm from residents and visitors alike. With its penthouses and tower apartments, it provided one of the earliest prototypes for loft living in England. Located close to the City and Clerkenwell, it is now one of the most desirable addresses for politicians, financiers, creative professionals and media figures alike.

In the book, the author, David Heathcote traces the development of the Barbican from pre-war planning to present day. Built on the largest blitzed site in the City of London, it was conceived as a new Belgravia to bring the professional classes back to the heart of the City. The project overcame all sorts of difficulties, from the challenges of London's geology to the economic problems that beset Britain in the 1960s and 1970s. The final scheme involved the construction of the highest apartments in Europe, with elements derived from the elegant squares of Georgian London , contemporary architects like Le Corbusier and Scharoun, and the Baroque architecture and gardens of Italy.

About the Author:

David Heathcote is a design writer and architectural historian. In 2002 he curated the 'Barbican: This was Tomorrow' exhibition at the Barbican. He is currently working on a book about the 1970s house.

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