Who were the Barbican Estate flats for?

Unusual homes in the Square Mile

Gilbert House: Sales Brochure - Page 1 by Corporation of London and Barbican Estate OfficeBarbican Centre

The Barbican Estate

Unlike many buildings of its style and era, the Barbican Estate’s flats were never designed as social housing, affordable to people on low incomes.

Andrewes House: Sales Brochure - Page 1/12 by Corporation of London and Barbican Estate OfficeBarbican Centre

They were aimed at City workers, some of whom would have had second homes in the countryside.

Looking West Towards Tower Block 1Barbican Centre

The Barbican Estate

Look at the smartly dressed couple at the centre of this perspective drawing. Both are wearing smart hats – his is a bowler, a classic symbol of the City of London. He’s even paired it with a bow tie.

The Barbican Estate

Comparing it to the other maps, can you work out where they’re supposed to be walking?

Looking South Towards Block XIBarbican Centre

Looking South Towards Block XI

This drawing is titled Looking South Towards Block XI. That means these people are walking north. Maybe he’s taken his hat off and it’s the same people.

Looking South Towards Block XI

This drawing is titled Looking South Towards Block XI. That means these people are walking north. Maybe he’s taken his hat off and it’s the same people.

A wide range of promotional material was produced to convince people to move to this part of London: an unusual idea at the time.

The funniest example is probably this film, digitised by the London Metropolitan Archives, and featuring a loud potential resident.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
Lose Yourself in the Barbican
An adventure through London’s icon of Brutalist architecture
View theme
Google apps