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Plans for a major renewal of the Barbican Centre. header internal Plans for a major renewal of the Barbican Centre. header internal

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Plans for a major renewal of the Barbican Centre. header internal
September 13th 2021

World’s best architects and designers asked to renew Barbican Centre

Heather Lishman image by Heather Lishman

The City of London Corporation has today launched its search for a design team to develop and deliver plans for a major renewal of the Barbican Centre.

The Barbican Renewal project, first announced in February, puts culture front-and-centre of the City’s recovery from the pandemic.

The Barbican is one of London’s most ambitious and unique architectural achievements; it is a global icon of brutalist architecture, renowned for its scale of ambition and consistency of design. The Barbican includes a range of meetings and event spaces capable of hosting high profile, corporate and association events for delegates from around the world.

Opened by HM The Queen in 1982, the Barbican is approaching its 40th birthday, and there is the opportunity to mark this milestone with a vision that enables the building to meet the needs of 21st century artists, audiences and communities.

Applications are invited from multi-disciplinary teams who have the skills, experience and ambition to deliver a complex and detailed project whilst respecting its Grade-II listing status.

The City Corporation - the founder and principal funder of the Barbican – is seeking submissions from practices working together: architects, engineers, sustainability and heritage consultants and others, who can embed equality, diversity and inclusion into their creative vision.

The initial brief allows for the Barbican Centre to be considered in its entirety – from upgrading venues and transforming underused areas into new flexible spaces, to improving the welcome, navigating and wayfinding. Embedding digital technology across the building to enable the Barbican to connect with a global audience is also a major focus.

The Renewal Project will also tackle a critical need to make major improvements to the building’s environmental performance. Under its Climate Action Strategy, the City Corporation commits to achieving net zero carbon status for its own operations by 2027 and its investment and supply chain by 2040.

The budget for the project is subject to approval by the City Corporation, and the successful design team will be asked to develop a range of options for the project that would be deliverable at different budget levels.

For the purpose of the design team selection process, interested bidders are being asked to propose a number of design options that would be deliverable within a construction cost budget of £50m to £150m.

Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Barbican Centre Board, Tom Sleigh, said: “Since its opening almost four decades ago, the Barbican has become a much-loved, internationally acclaimed multi-disciplinary venue for world-class arts, creative learning and community work.

“We have welcomed millions of visitors and thousands of artists, all of whom have come together to share extraordinary experiences in a unique environment

“The Barbican project has been a huge success, but there have been dramatic changes in arts practice over the last forty years, as well as the way in which civic buildings cater to their visitors and make themselves sustainable for the future.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for the world’s best architects and designers to bring together imaginative and ambitious teams to renew this iconic arts centre, adapting it to respond to the creative opportunities and urgent challenges of today’s world and ensuring that the Barbican plays a leading role in the recovery of the City, the capital and the nation from the pandemic.”

Each year, over a million people attend Barbican events performed by hundreds of artists from across the globe; as well as a wide range of corporate and association events ranging from a handful to thousands of delegates.

The Barbican 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, 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.

Interested teams should submit an initial selection questionnaire by 21 October 2021. Collaborative bids from design consortiums, particularly those that include emerging practices and widen representation within the project team, are actively encouraged. In addition, previous experience sections of the selection criteria are open to bidders who can demonstrate transferable skills that show their ability to meet the requirements of the brief.

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