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People who dislike the Barbican ‘cannot be trusted’, says LionHeart

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Architecture poet LionHeart delivers a highly-individual and humorous address at the AJ100 breakfast event in London

The poet made the tongue-in-cheek comment at a packed AJ100 breakfast event at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel on Friday.

He told the audience: ‘I’m a huge Brutalist fan. If you do not like Brutalism, I cannot trust you as a person.’

The poet said he had an ‘emotional resonance’ with the Barbican in particular, adding: ‘When I had depression, this was a place I could flock to like a moth to a flame.

‘If you slapped me in the Barbican I would be okay. We could be friends – [although] maybe not great friends.’

LionHeart later asked the audience to put their hand up if they were a fan of the post-war landmark, saying: ‘These are the people you can trust.’

barbican shutterstock

barbican shutterstock

Part of the Barbican estate

As explored in AJ’s profile, LionHeart has carved out a niche for himself writing poetry for a succession of architecture practices, shining a mirror back at them and individual architects as part of a creative and cathartic exchange.

He told the AJ100 audience that he grew up in a semi-detached flat with a low ceiling in Kentish Town, which negatively affected his mental health – but that the Barbican gave him a ‘sense of security’. 

LionHeart also told the room that ‘people’s childhood architectural memories affect their architectural decisions.’

And he appealed for emotion to be considered more frequently by architects in terms of the feelings that buildings and places provoke.

LionHeart said one architect had told him: ‘The only emotion we can talk about in architecture is awe’. 

‘For me awe isn’t an emotion, it’s almost a reaction to being inspired,’ he commented. ‘If awe is the only emotion we can talk about then we will just have Instagram architecture.’

The event was hosted by AJ managing editor Will Hurst.

Riddle me this

LionHeart has spent time at ‘around 10’ different architectural practices, putting on workshops, writing poetry and learning about people. Here are two of the challenging propositions he has put to architects: 

  1. Describe the person you love as a building or interior space. 
  2. Have you – or has anyone – designed a space for inactivity?
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