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How the Barbican brought back living into the working heart of London

‘The old rubs along with the new quite happily here, always has.’

The square mile of the City of London is the geographical, historical and financial centre of the UK’s capital. After a portion of it was destroyed in the Second World War, local authorities and architects hatched a plan to reinvent the area into a flourishing neighbourhood for urban professionals. Today, both the Barbican Estate housing complex and the Barbican Centre arts venue still seem forward-looking, with an identity that’s either an architectural landmark or an urban eyesore, depending on your taste for Brutalism. Released in 1969, when the Barbican was still very much a work in progress, this film explores – with a good bit of charm, cheese and Union Flag-waving – how the innovative project helped to reimagine the modern city.

Director: Robin Cantelon

Website: London Metropolitan Archives

18 June 2020

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