What you experience in your childhood often ends up engraved into your psychological make up. A place that I visited often as a child and hold a special place in my memory is the Barbican Centre. Its Brutalist architecture, fountains and publicly inaccessible areas have captured my imagination. Despite it not being overly large it often appeares in my wild flights of fantasy, coming back to me through dreams and imagination. As a child the possibility of the spaces seemed infinite. It inspired me to loose my self in such a space, a space where my thoughts seem to reside.
The Conservatory found within the Barbican is a very surreal experience. The industrial concrete being a reminder to Modernism, a time of expansive human development that now, perhaps wrongly, seem to represent grubby cities and rough council estates, hid away a tropical temperate paradise. This creates a bizarre mixture of environments and makes the Barbican go beyond just ambitious concrete it creates a level of fantasy to it. This is what always strikes me about Brutalism is the inflexible and unimaginative connotations that concrete brings to mind are shaped in such imaginative ways manipulating space in such a way that it almost becomes an oxymoron. This makes them incredibly beautiful and imaginative buildings.
Kew Gardens are another place that remain in my memory but no way near as much as the Barbican. Perhaps because it was visited infrequently, but I think there’s something more to it. A visit to Kew Gardens was an event something to be excited by. A visit to the Barbarian was routine a two hour wait at the weekends as my brother was at Italia Conti. This was a time of boredom not excitement. As Gaston Bachelard writes in his book The Poetics of Space:
“Centres of boredom, centres of solitude, centres of daydream group together to constitute the oneiric house which is more lasting then the scattered memories of our birthplace”.
The Barbican was all these things for me. Moments of boredom make time seem longer it also was a time where my imagination was most active trying to find a way to entertain myself. Through the constant returning to the Barbican in my dreams it has become an analogy of my mind. Spaces are often triggers of emotions and the Barbican caries feelings of memory, fantasy, imagination but also alienation if not quite loneliness. This lonerism creates a happiness, a safe place for me to reside. It has become a place for my solitude. My post-nomad self sees it as an image of my early life, its image has grown to remind me of the fantastical individualism of the curious introverted child I still am.