By Paul Wright
This year saw fifty years since the first tenants of London’s Barbican Estate moved into their new homes. Aimed at young professionals working in the city the estate was conceived in the 1960s by the City of London and designed in a Brutalist style by celebrated British architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon. The three young architects had previously established their reputation by winning the 1951 design competition for the nearby Golden Lane Estate.
Back in 1975 photographer David Hoffman documented life on this landmark estate, capturing not just an estate still in development but also a very different Britain.
David wanted to document the drastic changes to the landscape of the city. The shops, cafés and places he and his friends were familiar with were being bulldozed and made way for developments that were unaffordable and out of reach to them.
In a recent article for EPUK David looks back at this time:
“A massive imposing structure seemingly dropped from the sky, the Barbican typified a wider uncaring and absolute power over our environment. Its great weight, the unassailable concreteness of it, the way that it resembled a walled city with whole areas locked and gated against outsiders – all these came together to say “you are no part of this”.
“It was the very opposite of welcoming, reeking of wealth, only navigable by those who knew the secrets of its confusing mazes and owned the right keys. I didn’t find it attractive, but I didn’t want to make it look evil too. I felt it would be more effective to show its nature as objectively as I could”.
David’s images of the Barbican have been published by Café Royal Books, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the first tenants moving in.
You can buy via Cafe Royal here https://www.caferoyalbooks.com/shop/david-hoffman-barbican-1975
All photos © David Hoffman. Not to be reproduced without permission of the copyright holder. For more information about David’s work you can visit his website here
Please HELP to SUPPORT our Crowdfunder and help us maintain and preserve our resource and archive. Link here for full details and how to support > Support British Culture Archive
2019 © British Culture Archive