London, United Kingdom
Kam Bava of London design studio K Bava Architects gives life to the two compact bars that are located under the steps of the Barbican Theatre by restoring, refurbishing, and giving a technical upgrade to the bar spaces.
“The steel bar structure is made from the handrails in the center, and the ceiling comes from the art gallery. The handling of these pieces together with the use of mirrors creates a very different scale of experience, using very familiar design cues,” the architect explains.
After years of intensive use, the listed fabric required a comprehensive refurbishment.
The existing spaces have been refurbished and upgraded to current technical standards with a minimum of visual compromise to the original design intention.
These spaces are characterized by elements found around the Barbican Center, redeployed into a tight and considered arrangement.
The design team manages to intensify this interesting play on scale whilst highlighting the forgotten qualities of the spaces.
With the use of improved lighting focussing on elements of the bar, key walls, and the use of original Barbican colors they have struck a balance between conservation and recognizing the intensive and varied use of these spaces in a modern institution.
The furniture used for the project was discovered within the Barbican center and was reupholstered in plush velvet fabrics that relate to the theater seating.
The functional and technical upgrades include asbestos removal, lighting, security, visitors’ facilities such as WC, bar operation facilities such as washing, serving, and refrigeration, as well as improving storage.
The refurbishment project is both a respectful repair to an element of this landmark complex of buildings and an interpretation of how these spaces can remain relevant for current use.
The Barbican Center is a performing arts center in the Barbican Estate of the City of London and the largest of its kind in Europe, constructed between 1965 and 1971.
Project: Restoration of the Barbican Center Sunken Bars
Architects: K Bava Architects
Lead Architect: Kam Bava
Client: City of London – The Barbican Center Theater
Photographers: Emily Marshall