Programme Director, Castlegate Kickstart
© Urban Splash
Sheffield is a very easy city to walk around, and because it is built on hills you’ll get different vantage points from different areas. All of which means in a single day you can experience vastly different kinds of architecture that have become symbols for the city.
There’s even an architectural festival called Sheffield Modern inspired by the heritage and design of the city’s buildings.
Dominating the skyline behind the train station is a remnant of a social housing beacon that is currently being fully brought back to its glory years. The streets in the sky approach of brutalist architecture is really a wonder to behold (whether you like it or not), and the addition of colour and integration of business and community is now back on the map in terms of how modern developments should be seen. See the section in ‘Neighbourhoods’ for more.
In early 2018 work began in earnest in transforming a landmark Sheffield building into a thriving social innovation hub for the city region’s fast-growing creative, digital and tech sectors.
A £3m funding deal between Sheffield City Council and leading regeneration company U+I paved the way for the creation of a multi-use development at Castle House, the Grade II-listed 1960s former Co-op department store at Castlegate.
The redevelopment, delivered by U+I and Kollider Projects, includes Kommune, an innovative 16,000 sqft space in the listed modernist Castle House (now a listed building) that brings together a collection of independent kitchens, brewers, retailers and a contemporary art gallery in a unique, urban space. Kommune has quickly become one of the city centre’s most bustling hangouts, welcoming over 20,000 monthly visitors.
The project is also home to the interactive National Videogame Musuem, Ko:Host, a stripped back, modernist events venue and the Kollider Incubator powered by Barclays Eagle Labs, supporting digital and tech entrepreneurs to start and scale new business. Further spaces in Castle House are also planned to open in the coming year, with the intention of building on the flourishing, new ecosystem.
Nick Morgan, one of the founders of Kollider Projects, wanted to put the focus on delivering a home for an already dynamic community, encouraging innovation and stimulating business growth in the city region. He is passionate about building a true destination for Sheffield at Castle House, delivering engaging spaces that act as a community beacon, a place where ideas are brought to life and business can thrive.
This idea of multi-use space was pioneered in a series of pop-up events in 2015-16 supported by the City Council and University of Sheffield. This helped to shape the concept of Kollider and food hall Kommune with inventive people like Nick to help spearhead regeneration.
The re-invention of space and purpose has been dramatic, and is working wonders already in changing percepions of a long run-down area helped by the installation of a Barclays Eagle labs and the regular hubbub of locals and visitors hanging out in the newly renovated, brutalist interiors.
Image credit: Exposed magazine
Sheffield's impressive multi award-winning Winter Garden is one of the largest temperate glasshouses to be built in the UK during the last hundred years and has created a stunning green world with more than 2,500 plants from around the world. The building itself is 70 metres long and 22 metres high (large enough to house 5000 domestic greenhouses). With direct access from Millennium Galleries and Millennium Square, the Winter Garden is the perfect oasis in the heart of the city.
You can read more about Kelham on our Neighbourhoods page, but it would be wrong to not mention it from an architectural point of view. It dates back to the 1180s, so is actually the oldest industrial site in the city, and whilst still prevalent with derelict buildings, the sensitivity of restoring them due to the graded listing of many sites means that you’ll still stumble across old furnace chimneys in the middle of residential flats and places of work.
It might be odd to include something natural in an architectural section, but the truth is Sheffield’s rivers were culverted (built over) in the late 19th century because the water quality was so poor from the industry in the city.
Now however there are more and more plans afoot to de-culvert and bring pocket parks and green spaces back to the city. Awareness is being raised through trips and tours down underground into what is known as the Megatron by the Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust organisation. This was first trialled at the 2019 Festival of the Outdoors along with Sheffield Adventure Film Festival and proved so successful that now many more tours are taking place, and there have even been films produced for BBCs The One Show featuring wakeboarding in the tunnels.
Some pocket parks have already been developed such as those at Porter Brook and Love Square (as part of the Grey to Green project), but there is increased appetite to do so around the Castlegate area as well as a belief that one day the point where the Sheaf and Porter Brook join - directly under the train station - might be visible to humans once more.
This is all a result of the water quality being restored to the area after a long period of decline, which has seen biodiversity massively increase to the point where salmon have now been recorded in the River Don - but there will need to be more shafts of light through de-culverting to properly re-integrate wildlife back into these areas.
Not only have the campus masterplans of both Universities changed the flow and movement of people around the city for the better (and will continue to do so as they expand), but there are also iconic buildings worth the visit alone. Not all of them have love and affection, and some have even been nominated as ‘worst buildings in the UK’ - but they certainly stamp a mark on the landscape.
Firth Court is one of the principle buildings on the main campus. It was opened by King Edward in 1905 and is a beautiful period building that can be visited. Alongside it is the current highest building in the city - the iconic Arts Tower, home to Europe’s tallest operating Paternoster lift (a constantly revolving hop-in, hop-out ride that is a rite of passage for any newcomer to the Uni). This has become so ingrained in culture here in Sheffield that it was used for a performance of Terry Riley’s ‘In C’.
Just down the road you’ll find two more buildings of a slightly more modern style. The Soundhouse is a state of the art music centre that looks like a sound proof box, and sits directly opposite the home for undergraduate students of engineering - known as The Diamond.
The history of the cathedral is evident in pretty much every piece of stone and material in the building. And instead of us writing it all down here, we suggest you book on to one of the tours in which you can learn all about the fascinating social, religious, political and architectural history of the place.
Sheffield is a green city. It’s home to 2 million trees, beautiful ancient woodlands, and stunning expanses of parks and gardens. But these treasures are not yet evenly distributed across the city with the north and east of the city still marked by its heavy industrial history. Grey to Green is bringing more of this colour into the city centre, turning grey redundant highway into vibrant public spaces which demonstrate how to make the city more climate change resilient.
It's about extending our multi-functional infrastructure through the city centre, responding to climate change, creating attractive walking and cycling routes and connecting the less privileged northern edge of the city centre. The city council’s award-winning landcape design team has partnered with Professor Nigel Dunnet whose stunning wildflower meadows hlped to make the London Olympic Park so popular in 2012.
With phase 1 completed, a significant area of wild flowers, trees and shrubs has replaced redundant carriageway - part of the old inner ring road - from West Bar to Lady’s Bridge. The area is dotted with benches, offering space to sit awhile and enjoy the sights and scents of the plant life, as well as the wildlife it attracts. Through the provision of Sustainable Urban Drainage, Grey to Green’s new public space doubles up as a rain garden, moderating the flow of water and creating innovative sustainable drainage in a part of Sheffield that has twice been ravaged by floods. Along the new streetscene, five works of public art, made from steel and stone, share insight into the former lives of this significant part of the city centre.
The scheme has received national recognition and a number of awards in 2016, including being the winner of the ‘National Green Champion, Construction Category Award’ at the International Green Apple Awards.
In November 2016 it also received three awards at the CEEQUAL awards winning the landscape category, water environment category and the overall ‘Eric Hughes Award 2016 for Outstanding Contribution to Improving Sustainability’.
The second phase is underway and looks to transform a further 1.3km into not only attractive places, but also reconnecting the city with its river and canalside and opening up new development sites.
Neither of these architectural beauties are actually in Sheffield, but both are very close by and worth a mention because they draw visitors from all over the world to marvel at their size, scale, and history.
Chatsworth is home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, and has been passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish family. It is renowned for the quality of its art, landscape and hospitality, and it has evolved through the centuries to reflect the tastes, passions and interests of succeeding generations.
You can explore rooms in the house, temporary exhibitions, gardens, a farm and adventure playgrounds. The house alone contains works of art that span 4,000 years, from ancient Roman and Egyptian sculpture, and masterpieces by Rembrandt, Reynolds and Veronese, to work by outstanding modern artists, including Lucian Freud, Edmund de Waal and David Nash.
Wentworth Woodhouse is a Grade I listed stately home in South Yorkshire, with the longest façade of any country house in England. It stands in 87 acres of gardens and grounds and has extensive views over former parkland, including a deer park and lakes, which are vested in the Fitzwilliam Wentworth Amenity Trust.