Architects and designers SHH have brought together and led an all‐star team – including furniture designer Stefan Bench, lighting designers .PSLAB and Chelsea Flower Show double‐gold medallist garden designer Kate Gould – to create two stunning new restaurant spaces within one of London’s greatest 20th century architectural landmarks, the Barbican Centre.
SHH answered a brief from the Barbican to make the most of the location within this iconic building envelope, in order to create the new environments, which encompassed both the former 450sq m ground floor café, now a restaurant and shop, re‐branded as ‘Barbican Foodhall’, and the first floor bar and restaurant ‐ now ‘Barbican Lounge’, as well as the outdoor terrace spaces for both venues.
The Barbican Foodhall is a rectilinear space with three glazed sides and an outdoor terrace, now linked more strongly to the indoor space by the use of the same flooring – Cradley red brick pavers – and which looks out onto a row of fountains and the Barbican lake beyond. SHH’s overall design treatment for the space features an ‘honest and pure’ materials palette of mild steel, ceramic, glass and brick.
Lighting design is a major part of the design mix and the lighting company brought on board by SHH, Beirut based .PSLAB, has created a spectacular site‐specific treatment for the project. The result is a testament to a relationship created at a distance between the two companies, with the treatment developed without a single site visit until completion. Light fixtures were conceived to suit the ‘rough’ style of the building fabric and also to abide by the restrictions encountered within a listed building.
In the Barbican Lounge lighting in the space is once again by .PSLAB. For the bar area, the lighting designers inserted black steel hoops, each carrying a clear halogen bulb topped with a brass circular reflector, so that the brass reflector serves in reflecting and directing the light. The longitudinal perception of the bar is highlighted by the repetition of the hoop‐like insertions and their reflection in the glass façade of the terrace, acting as a mirror.
Over the dining area, .PSLAB developed a series of hoop chandeliers equipped with directional projectors within the fitting, making it functional for the dining space. .PSLAB felt it was important to keep an element of transparency through to the coffers, as the ceiling is such a prominent part of the space. The material of the fixture is hard, in keeping with the spirit of the bar fixtures. The manipulation of the material, however, renders it light in comparison to the ceiling. The finishes are a play between black steel and yellow brass in order to add life to the hoops and provide a contrast to the concrete coffers. SHH’s Helen Hughes commented “The design is made up of a collection of fixtures, which create one overall feature per bay, allowing the coffers to pass by overhead uninterrupted”.