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The Barbican Estate, 1975 | David Hoffman

Paul Wright

2018 saw fifty years since the first tenants of The Barbican Estate moved into their new homes. Aimed at young professionals working in the city The Barbican Estate was conceived 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. 

A different Britain

Back in 1975 photographer David Hoffman documented life on this landmark estate, capturing not just The Barbican 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 estate 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 Hoffman | The Barbican Estate Gallery

All images © David Hoffman, all rights reserved. 

2017-2012 © British Culture Archive | The People’s Archive ®

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