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Inspiring housing #4: Christopher Ash on the Barbican

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[More Homes Better Homes] The Barbican should be an inspiration for high-rise high-density living, says Project Orange’s Christopher Ash

Why do you like the scheme?

The triumph of the Barbican is in its embodiment of a past future that has at last found its present. Derided by both the profession and the public for much of its life, the flaws that once saw it condemned are, in the eyes of a new generation, the strengths that make it a valid and compelling piece of contemporary London. Rather than hostile and confusing, I find the Barbican an exciting place to navigate, an urban topography of immense drama bringing together towers, terraces and gardens with transport infrastructure, schools and a world class arts centre in a whole dedicated to the pleasures of urban living.

What could government learn from it?

It inspires through the enlightened commitment of its public sector client

The Barbican inspires through the boldness of its vision and the enlightened commitment of its public sector client. Perhaps unique in the UK as publicly funded non-subsidised housing for affluent professionals it is telling that it has become home to a much wider demographic over time including not just City professionals but also young families, creatives and downsizers. For a long time the only high-rise non-social housing in the UK, its latter-day success as a thriving urban neighbourhood should be an inspiration as cities (London in particular) rush to embrace high-rise high-density living.

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