The Concrete Jungle

Brutalism: the ‘marmite’ architectural style. Whether it elicits delight or disgust, it’s certainly never boring – its vast concrete slabs forcibly looming into your consciousness like towering monoliths.

I’ve traditionally never counted myself a fan, but exploring the Lost Valley is softening my heart to this most controversial of architectural movements: not least because of the Barbican Centre.

This Taj Mahal of Brutalism embraces the style so completely and with such unmitigated joy that fans and non-believers alike must surely shake their heads in dumbstruck admiration.

In this vast concrete city there is no better, more bonkers demonstration of Brutalism’s delirious brand of utilitarian utopia than the Conservatory: a literal urban jungle.

Opened in 1982: This hidden ecosystem contains over 2000 kinds of plants, an amazing ‘cacti wing’, an aviary of quails and even water-features full of giant carp. The contrast between this and the uncompromising concrete vista is astonishing and charming: bringing to mind sci-fi utopias of the 70’s & 80’s.

The conservatory is used mainly for corporate events these days but is also open to the public free of charge on Sundays: 11:00am – 5:30. Venture on forth for your very own urban safari!

Click here for visitor information.


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