The latest content and news from the Barbican. Book tickets at
The latest content and news from the Barbican. Book tickets at

Building the Brutal

What do you want me to photograph? Well, anything and everything was the answer

In the late 1970s, photographer Peter Bloomfield was commissioned by the Barbican’s first Managing Director, Henry Wrong, to document the final stages of the building’s construction and the first public events in the building. From rubble and scaffolding to a vibrant arts programme taking shape in the heart of the City of London, Bloomfield’s photographs are a beautiful reminder of the astonishing scale and ambition of the construction effort.

Explore our interactive archive as you wander through the original architectural plan to discover photographs from around the centre including a scaffolding filled Theatre, a seatless Concert Hall and a kaleidoscopic Cinema along with stunning architectural shots of the exterior spaces and foyers.




Scaffolding in the Theatre, Nov 1979



A workman continues his task of hand-drilling our trademark textured concrete, Nov 1979



The clean lines of the empty Art Gallery, Oct 1981



Two workmen take a break on the scaffolding above the Concert Hall, Nov 1979



The first trees are planted in the Conservatory, Nov 1979



Workmen load trees into a skip on Silk Street to lift into the Conservatory

Building the Brutal is also available to purchase as a book from our online shop.