Barbican Centre

Winning design team revealed

28/04/2022 by Buildington
The refurbishment of the Barbican Centre has been awarded to a joint design team led by architects Allies and Morrison and Asif Khan Studio.

The winning team also includes engineering and sustainability consultancy, Buro Happold; heritage experts from Alan Baxter Ltd; theatre, acoustic, and digital consultancy, Charcoalblue; landscape architects, Hood Design Studio, lighting design agency, les éclaireurs, and artistic advisors Isaac Julien and Nadia Fall.

The project will preserve the iconic building’s original architectural vision, provide new opportunities for the Barbican’s diverse community of artists, audiences, and partners, and boost the building’s accessibility and environmental performance.

Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Barbican Centre Board, Tom Sleigh, commented: “The team showed total commitment to preserving the Barbican Centre building as a much-loved global icon, while ensuring it remains a leading creative centre for generations to come.

“We’re delighted to have this world-class design team working with us to help deliver our creative vision, while also making major improvements to the Barbican’s environmental performance.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to shape the future of this iconic centre for arts and learning, and strengthen its ability to play a leading role in the recovery of the City, and the capital, from the pandemic.”

Newly appointed CEO of the Barbican Centre, Claire Spencer, added: “This is a hugely exciting time to join the Barbican Centre and I’m looking forward to working alongside the team led by Allies and Morrison and Asif Khan Studio.

“Their passion for the building’s architectural heritage, paired with their innovative design credentials, make them our perfect partner.

“Equity, diversity, and inclusion will be an essential theme underpinning the design process, ensuring our building reflects the creative energy of all London’s communities, with safe, accessible, and welcoming spaces for everyone.”

Commenting on their appointment, Simon Fraser, Partner at Allies and Morrison said: “We are looking forward to working with the Barbican Centre, the City of London Corporation, residents, and Londoners of all communities, to uncover the full potential of a place that so many people love, and to invite and enable new work and audiences for the next forty years.

“We are interested in the notion of ‘revealing’, of finding places of untapped potential within and around the walls of the Barbican. Not only will this approach offer substantial savings in embodied carbon, and respects the Centre’s significant heritage value, but it opens a myriad of opportunities for creative, inclusive reinvention.

“It has been a pleasure assembling and collaborating with a multidisciplinary team that has the lived experience to take on this exciting task. For all of us, this will be the project of a lifetime.”

Asif Khan, Founder and Owner of Asif Khan Studio, commented: “My dad first brought me to the Barbican just after it opened to the public in 1982. From those early visits as a two-year-old we would spend countless Sundays enjoying the free programme and public spaces. For him, the lake was a reminder of the Shalimar Gardens in Lahore. For me it has always felt like home and has been a constant presence in my life. Who would imagine that exactly forty years later there would be an opportunity to contribute towards its future? Amazing things happen like that in this city.

“This renewal project will care for the things we all love about the place, solving parts which could have been better, but most importantly helping to open up the Barbican to London and Londoners in ways that couldn’t be imagined before. The incredible team we have assembled to bring about this change are embarking on this journey with great excitement and dedication to the vision for the Barbican’s new life.”

All shortlisted bids were assessed by an evaluation panel:
- Yẹmí Aládérun, architect and development manager, Meridian Water, Co-Founder PARADIGM Network
- Lisa Burger CBE, Former Joint Chief Executive, National Theatre
- Margot Heller OBE, Director, South London Gallery
- Dr Judit Kimpian, architect and environmental design expert
- Dr Neal Shasore, Chief Executive and Head of School, London School of Architecture and Trustee, The Twentieth Century Society

The vision of the winning design team will now be refined and developed, with considerable consultation with Barbican stakeholders.

For the project, multiple design choices will be developed, with a construction budget of £50 million to £150 million. 
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