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Green light given for £25m Barbican Centre upgrades

The City of London Corporation has agreed £25 million in funding to start the first phase of the Barbican Renewal Programme, which will reinvigorate the famous arts and conference venue.

Members of the City Corporation’s Policy and Resources Committee approved the money to develop elements of a long-term ‘masterplan’ for the Barbican Centre, undertake further consultation, and deliver early systems and infrastructure work to boost the venue’s operational and environmental performance over the next two years.

The Renewal Programme will transform underused spaces within the centre for new creative use, whilst also investing in its existing venues and public spaces, and improving the welcome, wayfinding and technical capabilities at the site.

It comes after the City Corporation launched its Destination City programme to build a seven-day-a-week leisure destination for UK and international visitors, workers, and residents.

Recognised globally as an icon of Brutalist style, the Barbican Centre is one of the UK’s greatest post-war buildings, attracting almost two million visitors annually.

It showcases the most exciting performers and artists in music, theatre, dance, the visual arts, and cinema, as well as supporting emerging talent, shaping opportunities that will accelerate the next generation of creatives. The Barbican is also one of the most dynamic London venues for domestic and international business events and conferences, creating an unparalleled blend of arts, curiosity and enterprise.. The City Corporation is the Barbican Centre’s founder and principal funder.

The overarching vision for the Barbican Renewal Programme is to care for and invest in the Barbican Centre building, celebrating its radical vision, and design heritage, while responding to the creative opportunities and challenges of the future.

Major improvements will be made to the building’s environmental performance under the City Corporation’s Climate Action Strategy, which commits it to achieving net zero carbon status in its own operations by 2027.

The project will sensitively preserve the complex, respecting its Grade II listed status, and the original architectural vision of the arts centre, which is now more than 40 years old.

Since the appointment of an award-winning design team in 2022 – led by Allies and Morrison, Asif Khan Studio and Buro Happold – the Barbican Renewal Programme team has been consulting widely to understand what audiences, artists, local communities, and the wider public want from the scheme.