With London all a-swelter from a heatwave and the grass of Wimbledon getting its tennis action, let’s step inside a tranquil Barbican apartment with a difference. The Seventies Brutalist style of concrete crazy architecture dominates this section of the densely populated financial district in the East side of London. Brutalism was a reaction to the lightness and optimism of the 1930s and 40s architecture, receiving its name from the French béton brut, or “raw concrete,” a term used by Le Corbusier to describe his choice of material. Brutalism was favoured for government buildings and high rise housing, as in the Barbican area of London.
So, an unusual choice of style and location to call home. However, what some view as cold, clinical and concrete, others contemplate in an historical context and instead choose to celebrate it. This particular apartment set up high in a Grade II-listed, Seventies Brutalist London landmark has been given the love and attention worthy of its history. Designer Maria Speake of Retrouvius worked with the home owners to create a warm, cosy retreat surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the inner city.
A balanced mix of textures and shapes in a warm colour palette gives the apartment a softened sense of grace while global textiles, wood detailing and mid-century furniture convey personality and history. The bright, bold tribal colours of the textiles complement the rosy blush and wood tones of the furnishings so unexpectedly. It’s inspiring to see an unpredictable colour palette! Talking about wood: I’m a parquet devotee, so the glowing parquet clad walls and sliding doors get my vote. I was interested to learn that the parquet came from a local school and turned up in a shocking state. “It arrived in sacks of dirty, glued wood that looked ready for the bonfire. But all the pieces were scrubbed and individually hand-sanded, so that they reflect light in different ways. The result is wonderfully tactile, almost sculptural.”