Architect: Chamberlin, Powell & Bon
Barbican, London EC2
Viewing Day: Saturday 6th January
With wonderful westerly views over the Barbican gardens and the lake, this generously proportioned two-bedroom maisonette (approximately 908 sq ft) is located on the fifth floor of Willoughby House.
The flat is known as a Type 97, one of 16 on the Barbican Estate. You enter the property from Willoughby House’s central corridor, where there is an entrance hall with storage for coats. Steps lead down to the west-facing living area, which has full-width windows and sliding doors onto the balcony / fire escape. The kitchen occupies one large corner of the living room. There is a half flight of steps down to a corridor, with a WC off it, and then further steps down to the two bedrooms and the bathroom. The bedrooms both lead to a further balcony / fire escape.
The Barbican Estate is the finest achievement of the architects Chamberlin, Powell & Bon. It was Grade II-listed in 2001 in recognition of its extraordinary contribution to London’s urban landscape. Willoughby House is a low-rise block on the eastern boundary of the estate, built in 1971. All residents have access to communal gardens throughout the development.
The Underground stations of Barbican (Hammersmith & City, Circle and Metropolitan Lines) and Moorgate (Northern, Hammersmith & City, Circle and Metropolitan Lines) are both within easy reach. Moorgate also offers National Rail services. The flat is well positioned for access to the Barbican Arts Centre, Smithfield Market, and the bars and restaurants of Clerkenwell. There is a Waitrose supermarket on Whitecross Street.
Lease: 125 years from July 1981
Service charge: approx. £6,000 per year (includes heating, communal maintenance, gardens and lifts)
Ground rent: £10 per year
Please note that all areas, measurements and distances given in these particulars are approximate and rounded. The text, photographs and floor plans are for general guidance only. The Modern House has not tested any services, appliances or specific fittings — prospective purchasers are advised to inspect the property themselves. All fixtures, fittings and furniture not specifically itemised within these particulars are deemed removable by the vendor.
In 1951 the City of London organised a competition for architects to submit plans for a scheme to replace buildings destroyed by a night of bombing in December 1940. The proposal was to be called the Golden Lane Estate. Peter Chamberlin, Geoffry Powell and Christoph Bon all submitted plans vowing that if one of their practices were to win they would all form a partnership and work together on the project. Powell won the competition, and so Chamberlin Powell & Bon was formed in 1952. After their success with the Golden Lane Estate, the firm were asked to design the Barbican Estate.
Between 1954 and 1968 they drew up four distinct schemes which they continued to modify even after the build started in 1965. Their intention was to create a residential precinct which would allow people to live “both conveniently and with pleasure”. Their mission would include a quiet pedestrian space which would be “uninterrupted by road traffic” and where people would be able to “move about freely enjoying constantly changing perspectives of terraces, lawns, trees and flowers” and seeing “the new buildings reflected in the ornamental lake”. Their vision came to life in the Barbican Estate.
Apartments have individual balconies which overlook verdant landscaped squares and a lake with fountains. The buildings are isolated from the hubbub of the city and accessed by a pedestrian walkway raised above street level. The residential towers are three of London’s tallest. Designing buildings of this height required close collaboration with engineers especially Ove Arup, who were themselves newly founded in 1946, and were increasingly collaborating on complex projects with avant-garde practitioners of the built world. The towers gave a “dramatic contrast to the otherwise horizontal treatment of the buildings” and have become an iconic part of London’s skyline.
In September 2001, Tessa Blackstone, Minister for the Arts, announced that the Barbican Estate was to be Grade II listed for its special architectural and historical interest. The complex represents a utopian ideal for inner-city living, with its integrated schools, shops, restaurants, theatres and cinemas. It is also one of the most extensive examples of the Brutalist style associated with the honest and raw use of materials.
Queen Elizabeth, after declaring the Barbican open to the public on its completion in 1982 described it as “one of the modern wonders of the world”.
Chamberlin, Powell & Bon
The practice was founded in 1952 by Geoffry Powell (1920-1999), Peter Chamberlin (1919-1978) and Christoph Bon (1921-1999), following Powell’s win in the 1951 architectural competition for the Golden Lane Estate in central London. The three founding partners were teaching at Kingston Polytechnic when they each entered the design competition with the agreement that, should any of them win, they would form a partnership with the other two to deliver the project. After completion of the Golden Lane Estate, the practice was commissioned again by the Corporation of the City of London to design another housing development on an adjacent site: the Barbican Estate. The work of Chamberlin, Powell & Bon was strongly influenced by Le Corbusier, and their two seminal estates are listed in recognition of their architectural importance.
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Housing estates in London