Barbican Renewal:
Design Brief

A new vision for a global icon

Barbican Lakeside. Photo: Max Colson

Barbican Lakeside. Photo: Max Colson

Vision

The Barbican Centre 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’s development was a visionary project, with architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon seizing the opportunity to propose a radical transformation of how we live. We’re seeking a team that can work in a similarly bold and creative way to deliver an exemplar to the world of how a heritage building can be renewed.

There’s a pressing need to make changes to the Barbican building so that it continues to meet the needs of 21st century artists, audiences and communities. We’re looking for a team that can develop design solutions that will preserve and respect the complex’s original architectural vision and heritage, while adapting it to respond to the creative opportunities and urgent challenges of today’s world.

Barbican entrance on Silk Street. Photo: Max Colson

Barbican entrance on Silk Street. Photo: Max Colson

Project Scope

This renewal project will consider the Barbican building in its entirety. It will explore how we can adapt the Barbican’s spaces and venues to improve the experience of audiences and visitors at every point of their journey, from the sense of welcome and belonging on arrival to major improvements to wayfinding and look and feel across the building.

It will address the critical need to make major improvements to the building’s environmental performance, delivering sympathetic but effective adaptations that help us achieve our ambitious target of reducing carbon emissions from our own operations to net zero by 2027.

And the project will underpin our ambitions to embed equality, diversity and inclusion across our organisation, by ensuring all our spaces are safe, accessible and welcoming for everyone. We want to open the Barbican building up so many more people feel a sense of ownership and belonging in this unique urban environment.

To help do this, we need a team that represents a wide range of lived experience, and that can work with us on a sustained programme of outreach and engagement to co-design spaces that meet the needs of local communities, underrepresented groups and those with specific access or other additional needs.

Barbican Foyers. Photo: Max Colson

Barbican Foyers. Photo: Max Colson

Bringing our spaces to life

Alongside delivering architecturally sensitive improvements to our venues, there is a huge opportunity to bring currently underutilised spaces across the Centre to life. The Barbican contains many spaces that currently don’t meet their full potential, and we believe with the right interventions, our car parks, Exhibition Halls and other public and outdoor spaces could be adapted to deliver so much more in support of our creative and commercial ambitions.

As the Barbican enters a period of significant change, we’re looking for a team that can propose radical and original solutions to reimagine the possibilities of an arts and learning centre for a new generation.

Barbican Hall.

Barbican Hall.

Barbican Foyers

Barbican Foyers

Barbican Lakeside terrace. Photo: Max Colson

Barbican Lakeside terrace. Photo: Max Colson

Barbican Foyer. Photo: Daniel Hewitt

Barbican Foyer. Photo: Daniel Hewitt

Barbican Foyers. Photo: Max Colson

Barbican Foyers. Photo: Max Colson

Barbican Architecture. Photo: Max Colson

Barbican Architecture. Photo: Max Colson

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Barbican Hall.

Barbican Hall.

Barbican Foyers

Barbican Foyers

Barbican Lakeside terrace. Photo: Max Colson

Barbican Lakeside terrace. Photo: Max Colson

Barbican Foyer. Photo: Daniel Hewitt

Barbican Foyer. Photo: Daniel Hewitt

Barbican Foyers. Photo: Max Colson

Barbican Foyers. Photo: Max Colson

Barbican Architecture. Photo: Max Colson

Barbican Architecture. Photo: Max Colson

Find out more

Download a copy of the brief to find out more about the project and the design team selection process.

Winning design team

In April 2022, the winning design team was announced.

The design team selected to work with us on the Barbican Renewal project is led by architects Allies and Morrison and Asif Khan Studio, working alongside engineering and sustainability consultancy Buro Happold; heritage experts Alan Baxter Ltd; theatre, acoustic, and digital consultancy Charcoalblue; landscape architects Hood Design Studio, and lighting design agency les éclaireurs. 

The selection panel, which included external experts on inclusive design, sustainability, and heritage, was impressed by the team’s vision for the future of this iconic building, which put sustainability at the heart of the project.

The winning team has considerable experience in major heritage and cultural projects, and has delivered projects for organisations including Tate Britain, the V&A, Royal Festival Hall, Shakespeare’s Globe, Oakland Museum of California, and more.

Next steps

Over the coming months, the Barbican team will work with the winning design team to refine and develop their vision, alongside extensive engagement with our stakeholders.

Shortlisted design teams

In January 2022, an international shortlist of five design teams was announced:

  • Adjaye Associates, Benedetti Architects and PUP Architects
    alongside Charcoalblue, David Bonnett, DP9, Nigel Dunnett, OneDotZero, Peter Stewart, The Place Bureau, WSP.
  • Allies and Morrison and Asif Khan Studio
    alongside Alan Baxter Ltd, Buro Happold, Charcoalblue, Hood Design Studio, Isaac Julien Studio, les éclaireurs.
  • BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group, Avanti Architects, and POoR Collective
    alongside Applied, Atelier Ten, Barker Langham, Buro Happold, Charcoalblue, People Friendly Design, Speirs + Major.
  • Diller Scofidio + Renfro, McCloy + Muchemwa, and Purcell
    alongside Buro Happold, Charcoalblue, David Bonnett, GROSS. MAX., L’Observatoire, Nagata Acoustics, Nigel Dunnett, North Design, Patrick Burnham OBE, The Young Foundation.
  • FCBStudios (Feilden Clegg Bradley), Bureau de Change, Schulze+Grassov, and Thinc
    alongside AKT II, James Hitchmough, JWE, Max Fordham, Momentum, Nigel Dunnett, Ramboll.

The shortlist was drawn from an impressive pool of high calibre submissions from talented UK and international design led teams. Bids that combined emerging and established practices were especially encouraged as part of an open and inclusive selection process.

The shortlisted teams developed more detailed responses, which were assessed by a diverse panel including external industry experts. An honorarium of £20,000 was provided to each of the five shortlisted bidders.

If you have questions or would like further information about the project you can contact us on [email protected]