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Are you sad to see temperatures dropping? Don’t worry. Summer is still in full swing in the rooftop conservatory at the Barbican, where twittering exotic birds provide a tropical soundtrack to events whatever the weather. It may sound like a cliche but this really is an oasis at the heart of the capital and you can’t help but feel that you’re thousands of miles from the Big Smoke as you enter the impressive structure and take in its lush surrounds (this place is home to more than 2,000 plant species).
Tall glass ceilings, paving stones and streetlights bring a sense of the outdoors inside, creating a relaxed yet glamorous setting for dinners or receptions. The central courtyard can seat up to 70 comfortably, but our top tip is to opt for a stand-up reception, allowing some 150 guests to wander freely among the palm trees and fish tanks.
Sitting, as it does, at the heart of the Barbican, The Conservatory can easily be used in conjunction with one of the 14 other function rooms available at the centre. If you’re hosting a larger group, the best idea is perhaps to let the party spill into the subjacent Garden Room, which would bring the dinner and reception capacities up to 280 and 350 respectively. Alternatively, combine a reception with a meeting or film screening in one of the theatres.
This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events magazine, Autumn 2005.