Good Venue Guide

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13: BARBICAN CENTRE, EC2

Date of Birth: 3 March 1982.

Building: the fact that it contains enough concrete to build six motorways will go some way to giving you a sense of its appearance. Covering 35 acres, this 1970s arts complex cost pounds 161m to build (equivalent to pounds 450m today) and has one of the largest clear-span roofs in Europe - with beams wide enough to walk through.

Brief History: designed in the 1960s, constructed in the 1970s and opened in the 1980s, it was part of a scheme by the Corporation of London to regenerate the City. It is located on a former residential site devastated by bombs during the Second World War. Initial plans involved the creation of a large residential area and a new home for the Guildhall School of Music And Drama. However, with the involvement of the RSC and LSO in the mid-1960s and the support for the inclusion of a public library and art gallery, the concept changed: it became the Corporation's "gift to the nation", an innovative arts centre which combines all major art-forms under one roof. Millennium plans include a pounds 10m refurbishment.

Current events: Global Spirit's Womad Festival; The Merry Wives of Windsor, (Mon to 7 Feb); Little Eyolf (Wed to 7 Feb); St Nicholas with Westminster Abbey Choir and the ECO (Mon). All bookings on 0171 638 8891.

Strange but true: barbican means watchtower in a castle or city wall, and the Barbican Centre lies close to the Roman and medieval walls of the city. The RSC have pinned on 40,560 wigs here and 4,500 umbrellas have been handed into lost property, as well as three sets of false teeth.

Where to meet: the Waterside restaurant on the ground floor.

Cost of a glass of wine: pounds 2.30

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