Thursday, 9 February 2017

plants in boxes, on shelves, over balconies, cascading, contraband, constrained

For those who grew up in the long grey shadow of the 80s, the Barbican represented something of a better way - brutalist concrete softened by the tumbling streamers of sympathetic vines, soft vegetative fringes gentling the hard edges of modernism and social housing regreened into genuine sociability.

The reality, of course is that the Barbican is, and has always been exclusive, expensive and precisely ordered; compulsory geraniums and by-lawed plantings and always the gates; gates within gates letting you into increasingly exclusive spaces, three storey flats, four storey town-houses, mews overlooking a (private) park. Even the harsh concrete is actually a carefully hand-finished surface, every square foot carefully textured to perfection by men with jackhammers. Only those not in the know look at the Barbican and see the depressing equity social housing.

I still love it though; its concrete garden remains one of the most enduring caricatures of distopia rendered utopian through the application of sympathetic greenery.

Foliage stealing the skyline moss garden
no functional purpose largest freestanding roof in Europe of its time
winter flower globe lights and palms
hanging gardens lush and exclusive
and what about the dolphins? floating pillars
corner tree
much planting intrusive bollards
mews entrance walkway plantings

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