Calmness In The Chaos

Life gets loud, but London provides. In a new series we search out unexpectedly peaceful spots within the city centre. We’ll prove that tranquility in the city is not solely reserved for pilates studios and Hampstead Heath, you just have to know where to look.

The Barbican 3rd Floor Concourse: Max DB count: 58

Finding a place to be quiet and alone within the city of London? Surely not. Finding it within a 1960’s brutalist council estate seems even less likely doesn’t it? This may have the distinction of being the most derided period in British architecture and, in about a decade, we’ll probably have knocked most of it down. Thankfully, the Barbican is a Grade II listed building. And for good reason.

Ben Johnson Place, entered from Golden Lane, off Old Street, leads onto the largely residential 3rd floor concourse. Minutes walk from where Goswell Road and Old Street intersect, you can ascend into a surreal, modernist bubble. There are numerous places to sit, and often not another soul in sight. I’ll admit, the backdrop of brick and slab concrete doesn’t seem like the most obvious choice, but there is a method to our madness. The size of the towers and the low rises mean that they form a shield against the noise from the street. They may be monolithic from the outside, but from the inside they create a sense of seclusion that is incredibly hard to find in such a densely populated location. Just think of it like a big, quiet, concrete hug.

Goswell Road/Old Street Intersect: Max DB count: 87


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