A decades-old Brutalist icon in the UK is gearing up for a revamp according to a just-released competition announcement from the City of London Corporation.
The proposed plan would provide much-needed 21st-century upgrades to Central London’s Barbican Centre, a Grade-II listed structure comprised of several arts venues in the middle of a famed housing estate where apartments routinely sell for up to £4 million.
The Centre was declared “one of the wonders of the world” by Queen Elizabeth at its unveiling in 1982 and has since fallen victim to time and the aging process that has befallen similar exposed concrete structures such as the Barbican.
The project’s website points to a “pressing need” for the Centre to adapt to the “urgent challenges of today’s world” and sets a targeted price range for the project numbering between £50 and 150 million ($69–207 million USD).
According to the project brief: “This renewal project will consider the Barbican building in its entirety. It will explore how we can adapt the Barbican’s spaces and venues to improve the experience of audiences and visitors at every point of their journey, from the sense of welcome and belonging on arrival to major improvements to wayfinding and look and feel across the building.”
Large-scale Brutalist adaptation schemes have been making waves as of recently. Projects like the soon-to-be revamped Pirelli Tire Building in New Haven, Connecticut and Sasaki Associates’ redesign of Boston’s City Hall complex are in the works for next year, standing in direct opposition to the industry notion that the style is unworthy or unfit for restoration.
The brief also calls for a re-imagining of the Centre’s underutilized public spaces, which, it claims, can “deliver so much more in support of our creative and commercial ambitions.”
The downsized scheme replaces previous plans that would have installed the £334 million City of London museum by Powell & Moya at the southern end of the site. A £280 million concert hall by Diller Scofidio + Renfro was also commissioned by the city before “unprecedented circumstances” caused by the Coronavirus forced a cancellation of the project owing to financial restrictions.
Tendered submissions are now due for the first round of selection, which will culminate in a five-member design team being officially appointed in February. More information can be obtained by emailing email@example.com.
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