First encounter reflections
While accessing the Barbican complex onto its central plaza one gets subsumed by its buildings and levels which break the connection with the surrounding city. This disconnection of the centre with the surroundings and vice versa is caused by the lost of the public horizon.
The entrance to the Cultural Centre that is expected to be the main should be the one that faces the central plaza which for instance could host a massive access and exit to an event at the cultural centre. Although, to get there (from the Barbican Station) first one needs to go over the ‘podium’ (45 steps approx.) and then go down, creating the sensation of sinking below the street level (piso noble). Is the Barbican’s plaza at the street level? It’s not possible to answer that now, however it’s possible to confirm that there is no direct connection between the street level and the interior plaza, indeed the majesty of the public plaza as a preamble of the Centre is missed.
Similarly, while walking through the Barbican’s corridors (over the ‘podium’) it is hard to recognise if the space is public or private therefore one gets lost. In fact the visitor will feel as an intruder. This is how the ‘streets’ (highwalks) of the Barbican become more private than public, again the public horizon is lost.
Since there is no clear access to the complex, the exit as well is not defined. The limits of the Barbican are sharply described by the abrupt change of height of the public level (a 3 stories wall). As a result, a barrier is created that excludes -with no intermediate- the complex from its surroundings. The accesses to the ‘podium’ (interruption of the wall) are mainly functional: stairs, escalators, lifts and some hidden ramps, rather than spacial. The intense switch of the public horizon opposes to the continuity of the public space that could connect with the rest of the city.
I would like to imagine the Barbican reversed, with its plaza related to the surroundings and its borders clearly defining the private-public relation of its interior.