2020 meant more time inside and a yearning for more time outside. Driven by a desire to escape grey urban gloom in favour of the vibrancy of pastures green, people looked out. Green-flight.
Cities around the world saw an exodus of residents to outer suburbs and the countryside.
Our proposal looks in. Blurring the boundaries between interior and exterior, and building upon the legacy of green spaces in the city, we propose filling in the grey gaps of the Barbican with verdant colour, sounds of nature and smells of pasture.
With strategic cuts to the existing fabric of Exhibition Hall 2 we build a connection to the roofscape above allowing light, and rain to flood into the education space below. On Beech Street a new entrance and windows look into the hall with views through the space, where the 2nd floor slab has been removed, and up to the green space above. Free standing glass volumes sit at the ground level acting as microclimates for tropical flora and fauna. The glass houses will build upon the popularity of the Barbican’s existing greenhouse to support a series of educational programs focused on tropical ecosystems. An elliptical ramp will wrap around the glass houses taking visitors on a journey from the darkness of Beech Street, through the canopy to the sky. On the roof we build up and add to existing planting with new trees and vegetation, creating habitats for urban animals alongside small buildings for livestock. City Farm is an urban educational farm building an understanding of agricultural practices.
It is a place for urban dwellers to reconnect with natural instincts through touch and smell. Spending time away from our screens has become increasingly important and we have a greater understand of the benefits of spending time in nature for our mental health. This proposal doesn’t abandon the city, we should invest in making the city a place where mental health is as important as physical health. Build less, plant more. Referencing the tactile materials found in the Barbican (bush-hammered concrete, brick, water ect…) rough cut and naturally dyed timbers will form the basis of our constructions with mud, gravel and bark as our palette.
City farm is for those who didn’t get a covid puppy. It is for those living in flats who don’t have outside space. It is a place to be enveloped in the joy of the natural world. When those who opted for green-flight look back to the city they will see a harmonious natural urban landscape. Flowers blooming, trees growing, sheep baa’ing, sun shining.
The city is dead. Long live the city!