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

If you think you can help us achieve these ambitions, you can download a copy of the brief to find out more about the project and the design team selection process.


Key dates

Deadline for Stage 1 Standard Selection Questionnaire submission: 21 October 2021
Invitations to tender issued: mid-November 2021
Bidders information event: late November (exact date TBC)
Deadline for Tender Submissions: December 2021
Interviews: January 2022
Design team appointed: February 2022


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