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A Brief History of Brutalism at the Barbican

The Barbican Sculpture Court

This short course provides an engaging and critical introduction to Brutalist architecture through the iconic and groundbreaking design of the Barbican.

Learn about the origins of the Brutalist style, its unique relationship with Britain and its enduring impact on architecture and design.

Taught in person at the Barbican, the course will be spread over six sessions. The course is ideal for anyone looking to gain more knowledge in architecture and design. No previous knowledge is required. 


The course will take place in-person at the Barbican Centre on Wednesday evenings 7 - 8.30pm, 26 Jan - 2 Mar 2022

Class sizes are limited so early booking is recommended.

In the event of government restrictions, the course will move online and be delivered via Zoom. 

Please contact [email protected] if you have any further questions

Course information


Participants must be aged 18+ and have sufficient English language skills to cope with course demands.

Who is the course for?

Anyone looking to gain more knowledge in architecture and design. No previous knowledge is required.

What can I expect to learn?

You can expect to:

•    Gain an understanding of Brutalism and its place within 20th century architecture, from its origins as a design movement to a popular and widespread style.
•    Understand the movement’s rise, fall and recent resurgence.
•    Comprehend the features and characteristics of the Brutalist movement through a focus on the Barbican and the neighbouring Golden Lane Estate.
•    Learn the basics of Brutalist architecture from original architectural plans and sketches.
•    Experience Brutalism's connection to other artforms and creative fields from cinema to sculpture.
•    Understand the long relationship between Brutalism, Britain and social housing.
•    Learn and discuss with one of the Barbican Centre's artform curators how they use the Barbican's architecture to produce exhibitions, shows and events – both curating their own architecture and producing artworks within an artwork.

About the Course Tutor

This course will be led by Jon Astbury, Assistant Curator in Architecture & Design at Barbican Art Gallery.

Jon is currently a visiting lecturer in Architectural History and Theory at De Montfort University, Leicester and has lectured at The Bartlett, UCL.
Prior to joining the Barbican as Assistant Curator in Architecture and Design he held editorial posts as The Architectural Review and The Architects' Journal.

Barbican Centre