I’ve often heard of the Barbican complex being referred to as a successful example of utopia, an ideal community in contrast to the Heygate estate’s‘legacy’. Well, I would like to propose a reflection on this theme. I’ve been to the Barbican very few times and, yes, I actually thought that it would be nice to live there but, is it true that it can be considered as a still working communal dream?
The Barbican estate was built between 1965 and 1976 with certain premises; nowadays an apartment costs a price that I am quite sure none of us could even dream of affording and many of those beginning premises are gone forever. Moreover the Barbican Centre (in the website described as the largest performing arts centre in Europe) should be a culture brand grown and reinforced within the last 30 years (the Barbican centre was opened in 1982) but, what would be the answer if we were to ask foreigners what they consider to be THE cultural contemporary institution of London?
I am almost sure that most people would have almost no awareness of the Barbican’s existence and would quote Tate Modern as ‘winner’. Tate Modern achieved in the last ten years the creation of a world wide famous brand which is often a certainty when the matter concerned is that of organising exhibitions, events and promotions. Tate Modern in ten years managed to produce a strong brand that is no less enviable than the Barbican’s; it could be said, no offense, that Barbican failed to fulfil its premises while Tate has never stopped building new ones and that is why it is widely considered to be the new ‘real’ contemporary cultural brand.
In this context, I think, the Neobankside re-evaluation project has optimal chances to become the New Utopia. For these reasons I believe that nowadays the time for community utopias is over, also due to a natural capitalist development within consumer’s necessities; therefore, the Neobankside, as a Private Dream, could be the perfect Utopia to be desired: a new luxurious forlorn vision to be lived in an undisturbed heaven.
[This is just a stream of consciousness of a foreigner]