Winning design team to lead Barbican Centre renewal revealed
A collaborative design team led by architects Allies and Morrison and Asif Khan Studio, has been selected to deliver a multi-million-pound renewal of the Barbican Centre.
The project will preserve the iconic building’s original architectural vision, provide new opportunities for the Barbican’s diverse community of artists, audiences, and partners, and boost the building’s accessibility and environmental performance.
The winning team, chosen from a five-team shortlist, also includes engineering and sustainability consultancy, Buro Happold; heritage experts from Alan Baxter Ltd; theatre, acoustic, and digital consultancy, Charcoalblue; landscape architects, Hood Design Studio, lighting design agency, les éclaireurs, and artistic advisors Isaac Julien and Nadia Fall.
The team has considerable experience in major heritage and cultural projects, and have delivered projects for organisations including Tate Britain, the V&A, Royal Festival Hall, Shakespeare’s Globe, Oakland Museum of California, and more.
Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Barbican Centre Board, Tom Sleigh, said:
“The team showed total commitment to preserving the Barbican Centre building as a much-loved global icon, while ensuring it remains a leading creative centre for generations to come.
“We’re delighted to have this world-class design team working with us to help deliver our creative vision, while also making major improvements to the Barbican’s environmental performance.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to shape the future of this iconic centre for arts and learning, and strengthen its ability to play a leading role in the recovery of the City, and the capital, from the pandemic.”
Their winning vision has sustainability at its core, with a strong focus on reusing and retrofitting existing spaces to minimise the project’s carbon footprint and environmental impact.
This approach will make sensitive and sustainable improvements that will retain and respect the Barbican’s Grade II listed architecture, while bringing underused spaces into new creative use.
Newly appointed CEO of the Barbican Centre, Claire Spencer, said:
“This is a hugely exciting time to join the Barbican Centre and I’m looking forward to working alongside the team led by Allies and Morrison and Asif Khan Studio.
“Their passion for the building’s architectural heritage, paired with their innovative design credentials, make them our perfect partner.
“Equity, diversity, and inclusion will be an essential theme underpinning the design process, ensuring our building reflects the creative energy of all London’s communities, with safe, accessible, and welcoming spaces for everyone.”
Commenting on their appointment, Simon Fraser, Partner at Allies and Morrison said:
“We are looking forward to working with the Barbican Centre, the City of London Corporation, residents, and Londoners of all communities, to uncover the full potential of a place that so many people love, and to invite and enable new work and audiences for the next forty years.
“We are interested in the notion of ‘revealing’, of finding places of untapped potential within and around the walls of the Barbican. Not only will this approach offer substantial savings in embodied carbon, and respect
s the Centre’s significant heritage value, but it opens a myriad of opportunities for creative, inclusive reinvention.
“It has been a pleasure assembling and collaborating with a multidisciplinary team that has the lived experience to take on this exciting task. For all of us, this will be the project of a lifetime.”
Asif Khan, Founder and Owner of Asif Khan Studio, added:
“My dad first brought me to the Barbican just after it opened to the public in 1982. From those early visits as a two-year-old we would spend countless Sundays enjoying the free programme and public spaces. For him, the lake was a reminder of the Shalimar Gardens in Lahore. For me it has always felt like home and has been a constant presence in my life. Who would imagine that exactly forty years later there would be an opportunity to contribute towards its future? Amazing things happen like that in this city.
“This renewal project will care for the things we all love about the place, solving parts which could have been better, but most importantly helping to open up the Barbican to London and Londoners in ways that couldn’t be imagined before. The incredible team we have assembled to bring about this change are embarking on this journey with great excitement and dedication to the vision for the Barbican’s new life.”
All shortlisted bids were assessed by an evaluation panel which included external specialists in equity, diversity and inclusion, and heritage and sustainability, alongside representatives from the City Corporation and members of its Barbican Centre Board, and senior Barbican Centre staff.
The external panellists were:
· Yẹmí Aládérun, architect and development manager, Meridian Water, Co-Founder PARADIGM Network
· Lisa Burger CBE, Former Joint Chief Executive, National Theatre
· Margot Heller OBE, Director, South London Gallery
· Dr Judit Kimpian, architect and environmental design expert
· Dr Neal Shasore, Chief Executive and Head of School, London School of Architecture and Trustee, The Twentieth Century Society
The winning design team’s vision will now be refined and developed, including extensive engagement with the Barbican’s stakeholders.
Multiple design options will be created for the project, which will be deliverable within a construction budget of £50m to £150m. The budget for the project is subject to approval by elected Members of the City Corporation.
Each year, over a million people attend Barbican Centre events performed by hundreds of artists from across the globe. The Barbican is currently rolling out a new creative vision which will be the driving force for a more inclusive, diverse, and accessible arts and education centre, where everyone feels they belong.
The Barbican Centre is a key part of Culture Mile, the City of London’s cultural district, stretching from Farringdon to Moorgate. Led by the City of London Corporation, with the Barbican Centre, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London Symphony Orchestra and Museum of London, the five partners are together creating a vibrant, creative area in the north-west corner of the Square Mile.
The City Corporation, which is the founder and principal funder of the Barbican Centre, is the fourth largest funder of heritage and cultural activities in the UK and invests over £130m into culture every year.
The selected design team was drawn from an impressive pool of high-calibre submissions from talented UK and international design-led bids. Further information about the project and the brief can be found here.
Notes to editors
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Media enquiries: Alison Langley, City of London Corporation media team / +44 7599 101463 / firstname.lastname@example.org
About the City of London Corporation
The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK – www.cityoflondon.gov.uk
About the Barbican
A world-class arts and learning organisation, the Barbican pushes the boundaries of all major art forms including dance, film, music, theatre and visual arts. Its creative learning programme further underpins everything it does. Over a million people attend events annually, hundreds of artists and performers are featured, and more than 300 staff work onsite. The architecturally renowned centre opened in 1982 and comprises the Barbican Hall, the Barbican Theatre, The Pit, Cinemas 1, 2 and 3, Barbican Art Gallery, a second gallery The Curve, public spaces, a library, the Lakeside Terrace, a glasshouse conservatory, conference facilities and three restaurants. The City of London Corporation is the founder and principal funder of the Barbican Centre. The Barbican is home to Resident Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra; Associate Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra; Associate Ensembles the Academy of Ancient Music and Britten Sinfonia, Associate Producer Serious, and Artistic Partner Create. Our Artistic Associates include Boy Blue, Cheek by Jowl, Deborah Warner, Drum Works and Michael Clark . The Los Angeles Philharmonic are the Barbican’s International Orchestral Partner, the Australian Chamber Orchestra are International Associate Ensemble at Milton Court, and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra are International Associate Ensemble.
About the selected design team
Allies and Morrison
Allies and Morrison is a practice of architects and urbanists based in London and Cambridge. We design beautiful buildings that have long life and can adapt over the generations. We also shape enduring places whether new pieces of city or settlements at any scale. All our projects are concerned with the crafting of every detail and the appreciation for the uniqueness of each context.
Asif Khan Studio, established in 2007, design buildings and experiences which offer new ways of thinking about the world and one another. We take innovative approaches with technology, matter, nature, and human sensibility to reimagine the way we can all experience and shape our environment. Working internationally, projects range from cultural buildings and landscapes to exhibitions and installations.
Alan Baxter Ltd
Alan Baxter takes a holistic approach to create better buildings and healthier places to live and work. While engineering remains at our heart of our work, we have grown into a design consultancy working across all aspects of the built environment. We are committed to the wider issues of cities, urbanism, conservation, and their relationship with the design of our surroundings. Our civil and structural engineers, urban designers, and conservation specialists collaborate every day, distilling our breadth of knowledge, imaginative ideas and the ability to weave these strands together to create valuable, holistic and sustainable solutions.
Buro Happold is an international, integrated consultancy of engineers, consultants and advisers, with a presence in 31 locations worldwide, over 70 partners and 1,900 employees. For over 45 years we have built a world-class reputation for delivering creative, value-led solutions for an ever challenging world.
Charcoalblue was established in the heart of the UK theatre industry in 2004. Since then, we have carved out a reputation as the world’s leading integrated Theatre, Acoustic and Digital Consultancy service. We now operate as a cohesive and collaborative team across six international studios in the UK, USA and Australia, delivering projects to every corner of the globe.
Hood Design Studio
Hood Design Studio, Inc. is a social art and design practice based in Oakland, California founded in 1992. The studio’s practice is tripartite: art + fabrication, design + landscape, and research + urbanism. This breadth allows us to understand each place in its scale and context. We respond not with a standard design, but with an approach adaptive to the particulars and specifics of a space.
Isaac Julien Studio
Filmmaker and installation artist, Isaac Julien CBE RA, was born in 1960 in London, where he currently lives and works. His multi-screen film installations and photographs incorporate different artistic disciplines to create a poetic and unique visual language. His 1989 documentary-drama exploring author Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance titled Looking for Langston garnered Julien a cult following while his 1991 debut feature Young Soul Rebels won the Semaine de la Critique prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
les éclaireurs is a lighting design agency with a plastic and technical approach
Our agency has solid experience in the contemporary lighting enhancement of public spaces with a high image impact, urban complexes and public parks. The company is known for its scenographic approach to space, creating urban wanderings, making the space legible, playing with the temporalities of the city and its uses to better support them.