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Revealed: design teams shortlisted for renewal of Barbican Centre

Image of the Barbican Lakeside terrace in early evening with lights glowing

A shortlist of five world-class, international design teams bidding to deliver a major renewal of the Barbican Centre is announced today by the City of London Corporation.

The Barbican Centre, a leading global arts and learning institution, is one of London’s most ambitious architectural achievements and an icon of brutalism.

The Barbican Renewal project, first announced in February last year, will preserve and respect the complex’s original architectural vision, while adapting it to respond to the creative opportunities and challenges of today. 

This will include upgrading venues, bringing underused spaces back to life, and improving the welcome, wayfinding and digital technology at the site, reflecting the energy of London’s many communities and the Barbican Centre’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion.

The five shortlisted teams will propose design options for the project, which would be deliverable within a construction cost budget of £50m to £150m. 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 that would be deliverable at different budget levels.

The shortlisted teams are:

Adjaye Associates, Benedetti Architects and PUP Architects
alongside Charcoalblue, David Bonnett, DP9, Nigel Dunnett, OneDotZero, Peter Stewart, The Place Bureau, Transsolar, 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, Transsolar.

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 is 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 Barbican 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.

Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Barbican Centre Board, Tom Sleigh, said: “The Barbican is a much-loved global icon. This project will harness the visionary ambition of the City of London Corporation forty years ago, which chose to build the Centre, and make the venue ready for another four decades, continuing and amplifying the brilliant artistic achievements since then.

“Crucially, this project will strengthen the Barbican’s ability to play a leading role in the recovery of the City and the capital from the pandemic.

“We are delighted at the response we received from design teams, and the five shortlisted consortia combine the creative talents of some really impressive established and emerging architectural practices.

“We’re looking forward to hearing their plans for how they can work with us to deliver this exciting scheme.”

An honorarium of £20,000 will be provided to each of the five teams, with the final appointment made in April 2022.

Each year, over a million people attend Barbican Centre events performed by hundreds of artists from across the globe. Under its Artistic Director, Will Gompertz, the Barbican is rolling out a new Creative Vision which will be the driving force for a
 more inclusive, diverse, and accessible arts and education centre, where everyone feels welcome. The arts centre is also recruiting a CEO – a brand new position for the organisation.

The Barbican Centre 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 Centre, 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.

The City of London Corporation, which is the founder and principal funder of the Barbican Centre, is the fourth largest funder of heritage and cultural activities in the UK and invests over £130m every year.

Further information about the project and the brief can be found here.