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Barbican: Penthouse Over the City [Hardcover]

David Heathcote
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: 36.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

18 Jun 2004 Architecture
Penthouse Over the City sheds light on one of the most ambitious, and controversial, architectural undertakings of the last century; the Barbican Estate. This leviathan project, with its futuristic vision and Byzantine intricacy included, in its final incarnation, the highest apartments in Europe, an underground railway and an arts centre composed of a theatre, concert hall, art galleries, cinemas and a library. Its grand–scale conception included elements drawn from the rustication of Florentine palaces, the water and walkways of Venice, the elegant squares of Georgian London and the high–rise designs of the U.S. Today, the cultural and architectural communities are re–assessing the site′s significance in light of the achievement it represents. To its residents, Barbican living is an addiction. Its story spans decades or changing ideologies and tastes, and this book tells its full story for the first time.

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Barbican: Penthouse Over the City + Chamberlin, Powell and Bon (20th Century Architects) + Brutalism: Post-War British Architecture
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (18 Jun 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470851430
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470851432
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 25 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 52,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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“…a timely revisiting of a building the complexity of which we are only just starting to appreciate…” (Building Design, July 04) “…first complete story of the Barbican Estate…provides in–depth design info as well as a wider historical overview…” (FX Magazine, August 2004) “…a fascinating study…” (Architects Journal, September 04) “…packed with pictures, plans, models and discreet type telling the complicated tale of a landmark project’s post–war inception and influences” (Civic Focus, No. 47 Summer 2004)

From the Back Cover

The Barbican Estate is one of the most berated and beloved architectural projects in London. Taking over 20 years to complete from its inception in 1963, it was widely condemned in the 1980s for its acreage of relentless concrete and lack of clear entrances. Since then, however, it has inspired passion and enthusiasm from residents and visitors alike. With its penthouses and tower apartments, it provided one of the earliest prototypes for loft living in England. Located close to the City and Clerkenwell, it is now one of the most desirable addresses for politicians, financiers, creative professionals and media figures alike. In the book, the author, David Heathcote traces the development of the Barbican from pre–war planning to present day. Built on the largest blitzed site in the City of London, it was conceived as a new Belgravia to bring the professional classes back to the heart of the City. The project overcame all sorts of difficulties, from the challenges of London′s geology to the economic problems that beset Britain in the 1960s and 1970s. The final scheme involved the construction of the highest apartments in Europe, with elements derived from the elegant squares of Georgian London , contemporary architects like Le Corbusier and Scharoun, and the Baroque architecture and gardens of Italy.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Missed Opportunity 17 Jan 2012
By Demeter
Surprisingly little has been published on The Barbican especially considering what a remarkable and unlikely achievement it was and is. Sadly this book does not go that far to remedy this. Its tone is rather cold and terse, having the flavour of an academic paper that has been cut and pasted. It is also extremely difficult to read as the soft grey print and the point size chosen requires 20/20 vision or the assistance of intense lighting and/or magnification. Worst of all is the photography which is simply woeful. The Barbican is a fantastically photogenic location; it's almost impossible to take a bad photo even with a phone camera. Somehow, however, this book manages it. The low point is a shot of one of the kitchens that appears to have been partly dismantled or been subjected to a burglary. The picture editor seems to have gone out of his way to make the place look as bad as possible. The market is still wide open for a decent monograph with some social anthropology to demonstrate that that the Modernist Utopia was achievable
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Great photos - mostly exterior detail - and excellent maps, plans, cross-sections, etc but this is not the comprehensive guide that some reviews are suggesting. If you're interested in the planning process, there's good (if slightly dry) detail, including much on the political and procedural wranglings that dogged the early days. Plus excellent visuals on how the site evolved through that process. But there's rather less on the build - the innovations, problem-solving, etc - and no views on what it is/was like to live, work or perform there, or on where it sits in the context of London's post-war constructions. Also, since I'm griping a little, having made the effort with the design layouts and striking green cover, it's a pity Wiley's didn't spend a little longer on proofreading.

So ... not definitive but still worth it for the pictures alone if you're a Barbican fetishist.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous 29 Jan 2010
This beautiful book covers the design concept behind one of Britain's most beautiful modern developments.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compulsory reading 10 Feb 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book should be compulsory reading for all town planners and those who inflicted the high-rise council developments on us.
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