The Barbican: London's Middle Class Council Estate

A five minute documentary explaining and exploring Chamberlin, Powell and Bon's remarkable housing complex in the City of London.

An Englishman's home is his castle. Unless of course he hasn't got a home, having been priced out of the market.

England, in particular London has become an urban basket case. Luxury towers stand virtually empty as wealth stores for overseas investors while homelessness spirals along with rental payments that constitute up three quarters of the average wage. Londoners who choose to endure will spend more on their average rent than everything else put together. The situation as it stands displaces the poor, impoverishes the well off and will, if left unchecked, cripple the city. How has one of the wealthiest nations on the planet - boasting some of the most ambitious housing projects of the 20th Century from Bourneville and Byker Wall to the Barbican - let things get so bad?

In this film, a collaboration between The AR and The Architecture Foundation, Phineas Harper traces back the story of the Barbican estate designed by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon and commissioned by the Corporation of London: a story that offers a glimpse into the rise and fall of British housing provision, and stands as a vital lesson for the governments of today.

Written and presented by Phineas Harper. A co-production between The Architectural Review and the Architecture Foundation.