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Barbican, London

A famous venue for performing arts, the Barbican Centre is in the Barbican Estate of London, from which it derives its name. The building never ceases to amaze and is the largest of its kind in Europe.

Europe’s Largest Performance Arts Venue!

The venue has a reputation for staging a variety of performances ranging from theatre and art exhibitions to film screenings and contemporary and classical concerts. Also, within the building’s premises is a conservatory, restaurants, and a library.

The theatre has a seating capacity of 1158—687 in the Stalls, 137 in the Gallery, 139 in the Upper Circle and 195 in the Circle. The arrangement is comfortable, provides good legroom, and offers brilliant views of the entire stage. It had exclusively been a base for the Royal Shakespeare Company and now also houses international productions.

A Unique Building with Quirky Features

The Barbican Centre is a member of the Global Cultural Districts Network. Given its appearance, the building was once considered as London’s ugliest construction by a poll vote. Its unique Brutalist architecture sets it apart from the surrounding buildings. However, its facilities and over-the-years success overcame any negative remarks, and it is now a popular English landmark. With time, its block-like design has also gradually blended with the modern cityscape.

Here is a look into the other facilities within the complex.

  • The Barbican Hall is home to the BBC Symphony Orchestra and London Symphony Orchestra and has a capacity of 1,943.
  • The Pit is a flexible theatre with 200 seats.
  • The Curve and the Barbican Art Gallery.
  • The Barbican Library collects special music and arts and is open to the public.
  • There are seven conference halls, three restaurants, and two trade exhibition halls, as well as additional informal spaces for performances.

Recent Renovations and Changes

The centre was the design of Chamberlin, Bon and Powell. They developed a multi-level structure with many entrances. The complex layout is simplified using painted lines on the floor that help visitors from getting lost in the massive estate. The building underwent a cosmetic uplift in the mid-90s, which saw the addition of various decorative features and statues of the Arts and Crafts movement. Another refurbishment during 2005 and ’06 by architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris made significant changes, including the removal of several 1990s embellishments.

The City of London Corporation owns, funds, and runs the Barbican Centre. They are the UK’s third-largest arts funder. Queen Elizabeth inaugurated in on 3rd March 1982 as the city’s gift to the nation. The total cost was £161 million.

The theatre was originally the London home of the Royal Shakespeare Company, but left in 2002, following some allegedly bad seasons and also to develop their touring performances. So, the Barbican Theatre extended its Barbican International Theatre Event to the entire year. The site of the theatre is also home to the City of London’s Barbican Library and The Guildhall School of Music & Drama. However, both are not part of the centre.

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