Architect Laurence Quinn welcomes us to his renovated Barbican home
The Barbican is revered by historians and architecture enthusiasts alike for its distinct Brutalist character and historical significance. Yet some 34 year after the estate’s completion, it is no surprise that many of the Grade II listed concrete London landmark’s original interiors are in need of a refresh.
London architect Laurence Quinn of Quinn Architects is part of the Barbican’s creative community and has lived, with his family, in one of the towers since 2009. In 2015, he embarked on a series of renovation works to breathe new life to the interior, while maintaining the Chamberlin, Powell and Bon space’s original spirit.
’We were interested in researching the original concept for the interior spaces, to allow us the opportunity to consider these in a modern context and develop the concepts further,’ he explains. ’We simply maintained which parts of the interior remained relevant, and retire elements that had outgrown their usefulness. Our new scheme of components will sit happily with the originals and vice versa.’
The renovation was a hands-on experience, with Quinn personally involved in redesigning key elements such as cabinetry, skirting boards and bathrooms. The materials used were carefully selected to match the originals’ feel and tone; they include oak, grey terrazzo, white lacquered MDF, wool and cashmere carpet, and Grey Italian Limestone.
The new, full height doors with solid oak floor frames echo the original design, but were brought into the 21st century; now, they do not require to be constantly painted. At the same time, the brand new kitchen was one of the project’s largest interventions, with the cupboards and drawers completely replaced.
This was not the first time Quinn was involved in a Barbican redesign - his earlier renovation work there includes a penthouse in the Cromwell Tower - and it won’t be the last either; his re-imagining of a Type 1C project in Shakespeare Tower is currently underway. There, the architect is taking a slightly different approach, maintaining far more original details, he explains, and merging them with ’a select group of our new ideas’.