Bryer Court, Barbican, London EC2
Architects: Chamberlin Powell & Bon
A bright studio flat (approx 39 square metres) in Bryer Court in the Barbican known as a ‘Type F1d’ layout, designed by Chamberlin. Powell and Bon. The flat has floor-to-ceiling Vitsoe shelving, which divides the living space and the bedroom. The living space has triple-width, full-height glazing with a sliding door opening to a balcony with fantastic views onto the gardens. The bathroom is original, and unusually for the Barbican benefits from natural light. The separate kitchen retains all of its original features, including Creda hobs and Garchey waste disposal system. Bryer Court was completed in 1973, along with John Trundle Court and Bunyan Court, Bryer forms a U-shape surrounding Beech Gardens.
Residents have access to the private garden. The Barbican is well connected by transport, with a number of stations nearby including Barbican (Hammersmith & City, Circle and Metropolitan Lines), Moorgate and Old Street (Northern, Hammersmith & City, Circle and Metropolitan Lines) underground stations and Farringdon station. The flat is within easy reach of plenty of bars and cafes in Clerkenwell or Shoreditch. As well as a nearby Waitrose supermarket, there is a fantastic independent grocery store, Geranium, and the bottom of Cromwell Tower.
The Barbican Estate is one of the most radical post-war brutalist housing schemes ever realised. Standing on a site which had been devastated in the Blitz, the ‘Barbican area reconstruction plan’ was initially conceived in 1947. By the early 1950s, architects Chamberlin Powell and Bon, who were already working on the neighbouring Golden Lane Estate were selected to work on the masterplan to design a mixed scheme with housing for 330 people per acre. By 1956 the scheme had taken shape and incorporated a school, leisure and cultural facilities, shops and a mix of low-rise residential blocks and Europe's tallest towers. Pedestrian walkways, formal residents’ gardens reminiscent of Georgian squares, a picturesque lake complete with a striking waterfall and fountains — all at varying levels — create order without monotony. Pedestrians are elevated onto highwalks (the podium), separating them from the dangers and noise of the traffic below.
It was originally thought to clad the buildings with marble but later rejected in favour of pick hammered raw concrete — giving the buildings a solid and unified look, visually similar to the later blocks of Golden Lane Estate. Semi-engineered brick is also used below the podium level to echo the materials of the buildings that had previously stood there.
A total of 2,113 flats of housing for 6,500 people was built, aimed at middle- to high income residents. The majority of the housing is either one or two bedroom aimed at young single people. To attract these potential wealthy residents, car parking for 2,500 cars, district underfloor heating, Garchey refuse disposal systems and a theatre were all incorporated into the design. Internally the spaces were designed to be luxurious, well-built with quality fixtures, lots of light and space, often utilising double height ceilings and full-height picture windows leading out to terraces or balconies. The Barbican Centre, one of Europe’s biggest art centres was officially opened by the Queen in 1982.
The Barbican was given Grade II listed status in 2001.