Building the Barbican 1962-1982: taking the industry out of the dark ages

Workers on the Barbican site, 1965

Fantastic pamphlet on the workers' struggles during the construction of the brutalist masterpiece the Barbican in central London. Told largely in the words of the workers themselves.

Published by the University of Westminster and researched by Christine Wall, Linda Clarke, Charlie McGuire and Olivia Muñoz-Rojas, who interviewed former workers Vic Heath, William Milne, Pat Bowen, Michael Houlihan, Noel Clarke, John Steeden, Tony McGing, Richard Organ and Jim Moher.

Taken from

Barbican-pamphlet.pdf824.6 KB


Jan 12 2016 21:05


Jan 12 2016 23:18
Rachel wrote:

Yeah, I love the Barbican architecturally, and was there the other day. As well as the stuff about the industrial disputes which are really interesting, I couldn't believe the bit about the covering of the concrete. The Barbican concrete is all really rough, but it was made smooth then a team of workers had to go and manually smashing up to give it the rough look. Thinking about the surface area of visible concrete in the Barbican complex this task is just almost unimaginably huge!

James MacBryde
Jan 15 2016 06:14

The frontispiece put me in mind of E.P.Thompson's book on the struggle in the University of Warwick, 'Warwick University Ltd' – the same reconstructionist architecture. A synopsis is here, third down the list: