Building Utopia: The Barbican Center

Building Utopia: The Barbican Center

A beautifully designed 40th anniversary celebration of the Barbican Arts Center in the heart of the City of London. It is Europe’s largest multi-arts centre, encompassing an art gallery, theatres, concert halls, cinemas and a much-loved conservatory, and its regular contributors include the London Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Compiled by the Barbican’s chief executive, Sir Nicholas Kenyon, it is an in-depth exploration of the centre, drawing on the vast range of material available in its archives, much of which has never been seen before. . It includes plans and photographs of the center’s design and construction, original signage and branding, and brochures and programs. All of this is accompanied by a wealth of photographs of the wide range of performances and exhibitions that have taken place over the years, from the first RSC performances to the popular 2012 installation Rain Room to the impressive program of Today’s events put on in conjunction with schools and the local community. The authoritative and evocative text of the book includes:

• Foreword by Fiona Shaw
• Introduction by Sir Nicholas Kenyon
• Cultural historian Robert Hewison explains how the center came about
• Architectural historian Elain Harwood on his architecture
• Music critic Fiona Maddocks on music
• Writer and theater critic Lyn Gardner on theater
• Editor and Creative Director Tony Chambers on Visual Arts
• Author and film critic Sukhdev Sandhu on cinema

With lists of Barbican events from 1982 to the present day and snippets of oral history from some of the many people associated with the center over the years, this lavish book is an invaluable companion to one of Europe’s most important cultural spaces. in the world.


Nicholas Kenyon was chief executive of the Barbican Center from 2007 to 2021. He was previously music critic for The New Yorker, Times and Observer, then controller, BBC Radio 3, and director of the BBC Proms 1996-2007. He is now a Telegraph opera critic and a visiting scholar at Cambridge University’s Faculty of Music. He has written books on Bach, Mozart and Simon Rattle; he edited The City of London: Architectural Tradition and Innovation in the Square Mile.

  • ISBN


  • Title

    Building Utopia: The Barbican Center

  • Author

    Nicholas Kenyon (ed.)

  • Editor


  • Publication year


  • Restrictive


  • Language


Building Utopia: The Barbican Center