Exploring London: The Barbican Conservatory

Exploring London · The Barbican Conservatory | Sea of Atlas

Recently, Rico and I finally had the perfect reason to head down to The Barbican Centre to wander around. While we've seen it from afar many times, we had yet to step foot in. As Europe's largest performing arts centre, the area comprises of several concrete high-rises and buildings in Brutalist style that aren't the easiest on the eyes but have a rich history. In World War II the area was heavily bombed so proceeding the war, the centre was built to bring housing and culture back to the area. It's now considered a site of special architectural interest. For us, it was a great little oasis from the city to get away for a few hours.

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While the Conservatory wasn't actually our main reason for adventuring down, it quickly became a highlight of the day. As the second largest conservatory in London, the greenhouse is home to a large selection of exotic fish, plants, cacti, and succulents making it the perfect tropical escape to wander around and have a seat for a little. My favorite part was getting up to the second level within the space and entering the room with all the cactuses and succulents. The range of sizes from massive to teeny tiny was a fun contrast to visually take in. We found ourselves either ducking below large overflowing greens or leaning in close to see the intricate details of the small potted plants.

The Conservatory is open to the public almost every Sunday but you'll want to take a look their website before you head there since they frequently hosts events and close the doors to visitors.

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Our real main reason for heading to The Barbican was to see The World of Charles and Ray Eames. The exhibit was closing in a week (14th of February) and it was not one I wanted to miss. The husband and wife duo are some of the most influential designers and I enjoy any time I can get a closer look at their creative world. The exhibit included the full range of their work from photography to architecture. It was extremely inspiring to walk around and reminded me of the strong passion we have as artist and designers when we let our guards down. Unfortunately, the exhibit did not allow photography so you'll just have to take my word for it. If you have a spare hour to two this week or weekend, I high recommend stopping in before it officially wraps up on Sunday (maybe a great way to spend Valentine's Day?!). 

On the way our, we strolled along the fountains in the centre...and got lost. Yep. We chose to wing it when finding the exit and got completely turned around. When we thought we were on ground level, we realized we were still up a story with no stairs in sight. Eventually we did make our way out though, laughed it off, and hopped back on the bus home. 

I'm interested to see The Barbican more when the weather warms up. Though there's lots of concrete (not my preferred environment), it felt like an oasis in the middle of a busy part of London. A great escape to clear the mind and get inspired.

 

What is your favorite oasis to spend a couple hours?


PS - This is the first of our new Exploring London series where we will be highlighting our own adventures and favorite spots around the city right here on the journal. For more pictures and to keep up, follow us on instagram or browse through #soaexploreslondon