I’ve been to the Barbican a few times before – concerts, films, my brother’s graduation and just for a drink at the bistro – and have always considered it beautiful, especially the water features, but never really gave it much thought. Until Thursday last week.
I went on an architecture tour of the Barbican Estate with some folks, not something I’d normally do, but I figured why not try something new – and it was, excuse the cliché, an eye-opener. The guide was extremely well-informed, clearly passionate about the subject, and gave an impressive delivery of what was effectively a one hour monologue covering the planning of and history behind the Estate – fielding questions at the end of the tour.
The Estate itself is a meticulously planned residential and cultural complex and could pretty much be a self-contained urban community in the middle of the City of London – with cinema, concert hall, art gallery on the cultural side, plus sports facilities, creche, a school and even an on-site dentist and physiotherapist!
I’d love to live there myself.
This isn’t an advertisement for property in the Barbican Estate – there is a (musical) point to my ramblings.
One of the prominent features of the estate is the trio of Towers, named Cromwell, Shakespeare and Lauderdale – and I was intrigued by the thought behind their construction. Our Guide mentioned that often visitors try to navigate their way around the Estate using the towers as anchors on the assumption that they will be visible from anywhere on the Estate – being three of the tallest residential tower blocks in London.
This is not the case, however, and actually, the Towers were intentionally constructed so that there are places within the Estate from which they aren’t visible and, said our Guide, the architects purposely positioned them so that it’s as though they move when you’re not looking at them – as if they’re playing some kind of game.
So this got me thinking in a “if a tree falls does it make a sound when there’s no one there to hear it” vein…and then I discovered the Mandrake which, according to legend, screams when the root is dug up and kills everyone who hears it. Hence the song:
Just to state the obvious – it’s the band name, not the song.
And that’s how my mind works.