Sometimes Christmas festivities can get a little too much. Goodness knows I adore it, but a couple of weekends ago when meeting with a couple of the usual brunch suspects to scope a new coffee hotspot, the lovely Alana was planning to escape the festive London chaos by visiting the Barbican Conservatory, so I pottered along with her.
Who knew that such Brutalist architecture hid a multi-level tropical forest?
Free to enter, the large conservatory is allegedly the second biggest in London and is home to exotic fish and over 2,000 species of tropical plants and trees. The residential estate itself was originally built to replace housing destroyed in the Second World War and also houses a labyrinthine layout of an arts building “art, music, theatre, dance, film and creative learning
The combination of the building arrayed against the thriving tropical vines creates a lush atmosphere, almost reminiscent of the Planet of the Apes movies; a living dichotomy of harsh man-made structure slowly being overtaken by sinuous greenery.
It is perfect for a lunchtime meander, or an afternoon wander. The last time we explored the buildings was in search of the overlooked Oranges & Lemons church St Giles – I wasn’t a huge fan of the Barbican at that point…
“St Giles-without-Cripplegate is tucked away on a fairly ugly Estate,
amongst some awful Brutalist buildings. Now I know that the Brutalism
style was partially a reaction to the World Wars, and a need for
something different, something that symbolised the strength and
modernity of a new Europe, with cheaper building materials, but still,
We loved this wily Tamarillo tree placed to guard and block and external exit that wasn’t in use…
…and the ornamental pond which seemed to teem with fish, their bronzed scales flashing in the afternoon sunshine.
Found three or four floors above street-level, it is another secret of London’s streets, another reason why I love this crazy city.