Did you know that in the heart of London sits a green space that challenges your average game of Jumanji? Barbican Conservatory sits within the main Barbican Estate and is one of the many free spaces you can explore in London.
It is great for an afternoon or as a quick filler activity if you’re nearby, and is perfect for all weather. Barbican is around 30 minutes away from most of London’s attractions, thanks to it being situated in the City of London.
We took a visit recently, as the boy wanted to pop into the city and because it gave me a chance to check out some of the new things currently happening at Barbican.
Surrounded by Grade II listed buildings, Barbican is one of the best examples of Brutalist architecture in London. Dating back to the 1940’s, the buildings were “part of a utopian vision to transform an area of London left devastated by bombing during the Second World War“.
Today, whilst very much still a housing area, the main Barbican Centre boasts a cinema, art gallery, bars and cafes, a restaurant, a library and – of course – a conservatory.
We first heard about Barbican Conservatory when our friend Laura visited and shared her visit on her Instagram. It really is a hidden gem, as even when we arrived at Barbican we had to almost go through a maze of walkways and tunnels before we found it (mainly because I entered Barbican at the “wrong” side!).
You can find Barbican Conservatory on the 4th floor of the Barbican Centre, and once you exit the lift you can find it opposite the Art Gallery. At the moment, the Conservatory is asking visitors to book a timeslot to visit, this is to reduce any crowding and to allow a pleasant and relaxed visit. Prior to our visit, we booked our time slot easily and was even able to book a further slot later on in the day when we decided that we wanted to grab some food before our visit. That being said, we visited mid-week, so make sure you check ahead of your visit to avoid disappointment!
A Humid Tardis!
Built in the 1980’s, Barbican Conservatory is like a Tardis. Even whilst walking around we couldn’t quite work out how they fit everything in. It’s absolutely breathtaking.
As you walk around there’s paths for paths, going off in all different directions with something to look at in every corner. Just as you think you’ve reached the “end” there’s another path and you find yourself in a further opening. It is via one of these openings where we came across a Koi Carp pond, as well as a small pond containing turtles!
There are two floors to Barbican Conservatory. We started on the lower ground, however I know others start their tour from the upper level to plan their route. We enjoyed starting on the ground floor, though, as it meant we got to take in the views above after we’d walked round. It also allowed us to look at some of the plants that were simply too tall to see from the ground!
As you can imagine, Barbican Conservatory is indeed a giant greenhouse, therefore it can get incredibly humid. With this, you’re encouraged to take your time when walking around; making use of the seats that are dotted around. At the conservatory is also a small bar area serving a small menu of drinks. For us, this allowed us to relax a little before heading home.
As a plant-lover, Barbican Conservatory is an impressive sight to behold. The contrast between the 1980’s architecture and the modern-looking plants is something that looks almost futuristic! The boy had so much fun running around, as well as spotting several plants familiar to him from home!
Just looking at their collection of Monsteras and Fiddle Leaf Figs alone gives you an insight into the age of Barbican Conservatory. The plants are very well established, and are clearly left to their own devices! Not only that, but work is clearly being done to grow new plant life. There isn’t an inch of space where there isn’t a plant pot growing something that’s recently propagated. It’s fascinating.
This will no doubt not be the only time we visit Barbican Conservatory. It was a brilliant way to spend an afternoon. Being within the main Barbican estate meant we had access to lots of other things to do whilst we were there – making the visit well worth the journey.
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