6072 - High Flyers

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When you buy an apartment in the Barbican, who better to help you restore it to its former glory than one of the original architects? The fortunes of the Barbican Estate, a huge, brutalist tangle of concrete high rises and walkways on the western fringe of the City of London, have gone up and down more than would seem decent in its brief 43-year history. But its recent refurbishment and a renewed appreciation of its Le Corbusier-inspired design ethos have driven its 2,014 apartments back to the very top of the property hot list. When Kathryn Williams and Craig Allen came to look for an apartment in the 35-acre estate in 1999, it was during one of the Barbican’s unfashionable lows, and there were plenty of places to choose from. These days they rarely come onto the market; when they do, they are fought over fiercely by architects, designers and artists. Williams is head of retail for the furniture company Knoll Studio, while Allen’s career has spanned the Conran Shop, Gucci, Linley and, most recently, Molton Brown, where he was creative director, so they are well aware of the Barbican’s design heritage. “The main towers have three floor plans, so it was a matter of deciding on which tower, which internal configuration and which level.” They narrowed it down to a two-bedroom corner apartment in the central tower, to be away from the roads, and on an upper level for the light. To be sympathetic to the architects’ original scheme, Williams and Allen tracked down one of their number, Frank Woods, who was able to advise on the earlier door styles and various appropriate fixtures and fittings. He also gave them an insight into the thought processes behind the development. Writer Vinny Lee - vinnylee@btinternet.com

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