Flying Trees and Sunken Squares

The Barbican Exhibition

Flying Trees and Sunken Squares exhibition at the Barbican

Explore the history behind the creation of the open spaces, gardens, and conservatory that are found across the Barbican Estate and Arts Centre.

For over a decade (1940–1956), the devastated postwar site where this exhibition now stands was a wild landscape. Debate on the urban role of open space raged on, while weeds gently but effectively regenerated the City from its ashes. A monumental landscape emerged, combining low and high rise buildings and spaces, creating an enclosed, urban fabric within the City.

Flying Trees and Sunken Squares is the fifth of the changing foyer displays. It explores the history and design of the Barbican Estate and Arts Centre and is divided into three sections. A selection of books from founding CP&B partner Geoffrey Powell bring to light references from continental Europe and inspiration from the English garden. A selection of archival drawings and illustrations conveys the interweaving of artifice and nature. At its centre historical drawings of the Conservatory and newly commissioned botanical photography celebrate the glass and steel design of this hidden garden.

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a black and white picture of the barbican towers in central london

Watch: Architecture

Discover more about the history of our Grade II listed building plus debates and discussion about architecture – with slight favouritism towards Brutalism…

Architecture Tours

Brutal or beautiful? Join us for a walking tour and discover the fascinating history behind the building of the Barbican Estate

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Barbican Foyers