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Architects and designers asked to renew Barbican Centre

by Louisa Daley

The City of London Corporation has launched its search for a design team to develop and deliver plans for a major renewal of the Barbican Centre.

The Barbican Renewal project, first announced in February, aims to place culture front-and-centre of the city’s recovery from the pandemic.

The City Corporation, the founder and principal funder of the Barbican, is seeking submissions from practices working together: architects, engineers, sustainability and heritage consultants and others, who can embed equality, diversity and inclusion.

The initial brief will include upgrading venues and transforming underused areas into new flexible spaces, to improving the welcome, navigating and wayfinding. It also aims to embed digital technology across the building to enable the Barbican to connect with a global audience.

The Renewal Project also aims to improve the building’s environmental performance. Under its Climate Action Strategy, the City Corporation commits to achieving net-zero carbon status for its own operations by 2027 and its investment and supply chain by 2040.

For the purpose of the design team selection process, interested bidders are being asked to propose a number of design options that would be deliverable within a construction cost budget of £50m to £150m. Interested teams should submit an initial selection questionnaire by 21 October 2021.

Tom Sleigh, chair of the City of London Corporation’s Barbican Centre Board,  said: “Since its opening almost four decades ago, the Barbican has become a much-loved, internationally acclaimed multi-disciplinary venue for world-class arts, creative learning and community work.

“We have welcomed millions of visitors and thousands of artists, all of whom have come together to share extraordinary experiences in a unique environment.The Barbican project has been a huge success, but there have been dramatic changes in arts practice over the last forty years, as well as the way in which civic buildings cater to their visitors and make themselves sustainable for the future.”

He added: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the world’s best architects and designers to bring together imaginative and ambitious teams to renew this iconic arts centre, adapting it to respond to the creative opportunities and urgent challenges of today’s world and ensuring that the Barbican plays a leading role in the recovery of the city, the capital and the nation from the pandemic.”

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