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This is How SHH ReBranded the Barbican Foodhall & Lounge

Architects and designers at SHH have brought together and led an all-star team that served both as interior and branding designers to create two new restaurant spaces within one of London’s greatest 20th century architectural landmarks, the Barbican Centre. This project encompassed both the former 450sqm ground floor café, now a restaurant and shop, re-branded as ‘Barbican Foodhall’, and the first floor bar and restaurant - now "Barbican Lounge".

The Barbican is Europe's largest multi-arts and conference venue, presenting a diverse range of art, music, theatre, dance, film and creative learning events. It is also home to the London Symphony Orchestra. SHH answered a brief from the clients at Barbican to make the most of the location. According to SHH’s lead designer on the project Helen Hughes, the project "sought to bring the Centre’s food and beverage offer up to the level of the Barbican’s long-established worldwide reputation for art exhibitions and performances."


As well as new interior designs, the brief to SHH included also the design of a new identity for both venues, as well as a range of brand applications, including point of sale, menus, coasters, takeaway cups, bags and a "bag for life".

"The new identity for the Foodhall uses black and white photographic building icons and seeks to sit within the current Barbican brand family, although uniquely differentiated by the use of capital rather than traditional lower case lettering. The identity work is cool, crisp and understated and largely in black and white with measured injections of colour," explains the studio.

Design Approach

“Our overall approach", explained Helen Hughes, "was to link the spaces back to the wonderful architecture of the Barbican itself and to celebrate the building’s materiality by exposing the original concrete ceilings, de-cladding the hammered aggregate walls in the Barbican Lounge space and using Cradley brick pavers for the Foodhall flooring, which not only brought the flooring back in line with the original treatment, but linked it to all the existing external Barbican walkways.

Our second major direction was to create visual connections between the two offers, particularly via the outdoor terraces, which extend from each space. This was achieved partly through planting, but mostly by the design of huge, eye-catching and bespoke-designed umbrellas or ‘urban trees’, made of two off-centre perforated aluminium disks, with the bottom disk measuring 3m in width, set into wooden bases, which house both planting and integrated seating.

Finally, we sought to animate the spaces with striking feature areas, details and materials, including a peacock-green resin floor in the Lounge, especially colour-matched to a photo taken in the Summer of the green water of the Barbican outdoor lake, plus great lighting and an unusual mix of furniture including new, bespoke, vintage and specially-reissued items.”

“We’re really excited about the transformation of our food offering” added Sir Nicholas Kenyon, MD of the Barbican Centre. “The spaces have been stripped right back to the original wall textures and fittings, so it really feels like a natural and organic development of our iconic centre. We’re confident regular visitors to the centre will enjoy the new experience and that this transformation will also help to introduce new people to the area.”

Here are the Images of the Barbican Foodhall and Lounge:

External and Interiors photography by Gareth Gardner
Additional branding and detail shots by Caroline Collett
Interested in learning more about SHH? Click here to get to an interview DUDYE had with the company's chairman, David Spence.

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