09 MAR A 29 FEV 17 .......................................................................










“You and one companion are

audience enough for each other,

so are you for yourself.

For you, let the crowd be one,

and one be a crowd.”[1]


Barbican on Solitude represents the result of an idiosyncratic lived time experience in-between a post-war modernist building – the Barbican Estate[2] – and one solitary ´other` – me. The unexpected bond created between these two ´characters` departed from personal lunchtime walks towards the Barbican´s labyrinthine complex public space: a solitary gap between my own working hours as an architect in London, who was focused on immersing into solitude and engaging with the Barbican´s mixed compositions. Assuming the act of walking through the Barbican as an allegorical and potential narrative, Barbican on Solitude is an exhibition that unravels a walk story which is structured into three main concepts, and that intends to remind us that walking can be appropriated as a device to learn how to see, to discover, to interpret and to claim existing social behaviors in the contemporary built environment.

Walking as a Process of Solitary W(a)(o)ndering explores the coexistence of both wondering and wandering through my walks through the Barbican. Wondering as the stimulus that incited the act of walking, driven by my personal curiosity over the place, and wandering as a walking methodology that accepts flexibility, chance and openness and which is rooted in the Situationist dérive. Walking as a Tool unfolds three walking tools practised during my walks through the Barbican: observing, gleaning and mapping, which are grounded in the ‘as found’ attitude explored by the Independent Group[3] in the 1950s. Observing encompasses a method that uses the body as a tool, where the eye is trained to become attentive to the ordinary elements that coexist in the Barbican; gleaning translates a process of discovery and selection of the “as found” element – the Solitary Charactersan existing social behavior pattern found among the Barbican´s public space; and mapping reveals the creation of a social media survey – @barbican_on_solitude[4] – which represents and makes public the Solitary Characters mapped through a process of stalking and voyeurism. Finally Walking as a Practice of Interconnection takes Jane Rendell’s notion of “practising specific places certain artworks produce critical spaces”[5] to argue that walking through Barbican is ‘practising’ the place both poetically and critically. By practising the place poetically, I acknowledge the influence of walking as a practice that unveils “spatial stories”, allowing me to engage with a specific context. By practising the place critically, I found a collective cultural topic: solitude or lack of connection, opening a contemporary debate around the lost relationships in-between elements that are apparently disconnected within the built environment: Body and Space; Thinking and Doing; Visible and Invisible; You and Me; Here and Now; There and Then; Place and Design.



[1] Michel de Montaigne, On Solitude, (London: Penguin Books, 2009), p. 19.

[2] The Barbican is a Modernist Estate developed and designed during the 1960s by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon Architects as part of a utopian Brutalism vision for London, whose main goal was to transform an area devastated by the World War II bombings into a high-density mixed residential complex.

[3] Independent group were a radical group of young artists, writers and critics who met at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London in the 1950s, and challenged the dominant modernist culture dominant at that time, in order to make it more inclusive of popular culture. To explore this subject please consult: Claude Lichtenstein and Thomas Schregenberger, ‘As Found: The Discovery of the Ordinary’, (Zurich: Lars Müller Publishers, 2001).

[4] To explore this subject please consult the Instagram´s account: barbican_on_solitude.

[5] Jane Rendell, Art and Architecture A Place Between, (New York: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd, 2006), p.19.




Fernando P Ferreira is an architect and a creative researcher based in Porto (Portugal), whose practice relies on the interaction between art/urban and socially engaged research, landscape & media representation, critical spatial practices and writing.

His research is simultaneously practical/theoretical and is mainly interested in making public invisible/forgotten structures present in the contemporary urban and rural landscape, and in exploring anticipatory design strategies, towards the experimentation of phenomenological ar(t)chitectural practices & tools that are focused in learn how to see, to interpret, to represent and to interact with the existing relationships, dynamics and specificities present in-between contemporary places, people and time. Currently, Fernando is a member of Space Transcribers, a network and a platform for territorial representation and speculation, which explores a methodology that is focused in site-specific actions (workshops, walks and exhibitions) that engage closely with places specificities and social dynamics, in a constant quest of contents and processes that can be transcribed into structured narratives.