By Kelly Beswick
Most East Londoners will be familiar with the Barbican Estate’s Brutalist exterior, but thanks to photographer and resident Anton Rodriguez, we get to peep through the keyhole
It began with a blog and ended up as a book, Residents: Inside the Iconic Barbican Estate (£30, The Barbican Centre), but what first prompted Anton Rodriguez’s photographic project was simple nosiness. “I wanted to see what my neighbours’ apartments were like,” he states baldly. As a Barbican resident of some four years standing, his curiosity has paid off big time, so come on in and meet the neighbours.
James and Lucy are a business development manager and a database developer respectively. Lucy has lived in the Barbican since 2012 in various apartments and James joined her when they moved into their current home in 2014.
“Our flat has my favourite of all Barbican windows; the ground- floor lounge is double height, faces the lake and has an inverted arch window. Watching the ducks out of the window is a pure joy,” says Lucy.
Eric Guilbert is an architect and land artist and has lived in the Barbican for two years. Although he was born in France, Eric has been a Londoner for eighteen years.
The soothing, comforting environment of the Barbican was a draw, being one of the few places in central London where one can live in a looked-after, modern environment. Eric is also a huge fan of the architecture, with the detailing around the estate, the well-planned layout and the generous outside areas adding to a space that he considers is ageing well.
The large, floor-to-ceiling windows, plentiful sunlight and views of the city make it a wonderfully relaxing and calm place to be.
“I love the Brutalist aesthetic that gives the Barbican the feel of inhabited cliffs overlooking gardens; the buildings look like rocks carved out by some ancient civilisation,” he says.
Olivier Pidoux is a language tutor, who teaches French to adults and has lived in the Barbican for thirteen years now. A frequent visitor to the complex before he actually lived there, he was initially drawn to the architecture but, upon stepping into their new home, the space, light and design totally captivated Olivier and his partner.
Living in a triplex, the amazing staircase is an obvious favourite for them, but this is closely followed by the barrel-vaulted ceiling in the top floor room. The fact that they are able to walk and cycle everywhere, with close access to the arts centre means they’ve never tired of living in the estate. “I cannot imagine living anywhere else in London. Once you and experience the Barbican… you never leave,” says Olivier.
Wendy Spurry works for a bookstore in Bloomsbury in addition to her role as a host at the Barbican Centre; she has lived in the estate for thirteen years.
Having lived and worked in many parts of London, the Barbican’s enigmatic environment – all curves, angles and spikes – attracted Wendy’s interest and she felt at home immediately. Her apartment is comfortable, stylish, welcoming and with the kind of attention to detail that is reminiscent of a luxury car.
“I’ve heard so many people describe the Barbican as cold, impersonal and dystopian; but that’s not the way I’ve found it,” she says. “I think it’s beautiful and I adore living here.”