Stirling Prize-shortlisted housing regeneration scheme for Europe's largest Grade II* listed structure
Years of under-investment left the infamous Park Hill estate in a state of decline, compelling English Heritage to award it Grade II* listed status. The challenge for Sheffield Council was how to regenerate a notoriously neglected estate on the outskirts of the city into a place people wanted to live in. An identity overhaul was desperately needed in a climate of declining public investment. The response was to launch a developer-led design competition, to seek out a team who would invest both financially and emotionally into the regeneration of the estate.
“Hawkins\Brown and Studio Egret West, have achieved something spectacular and the rebuilt apartments are a delight...”
Edwin Heathcote, Financial Times
Our winning vision recognised the need to reconnect Park Hill to Sheffield at the same time as turning it into a destination in its own right.
Together with Urban Splash, and our collaborators Studio Egret West, we structured ‘ten commandments’ to help put right nearly 30 years of neglect and misunderstanding. They ranged from overarching guiding principles, such as getting the building to engage with its landscape, through to how we might address fundamental repairs to the building fabric. But most important for us was manifesting ‘transformational change’ and communicating this to the rest of Sheffield. If a new community was going to invest in Park Hill to establish new homes and to create new businesses - then it had to sell itself to the city.
“...I think this scheme gives real meaning to the word 'regeneration'; it represents a new beginning, a new vitality.”
Ivor Smith, original architect
Streets in the Sky
The apartments have been given a thorough face-lift and remodelled to 21st-century standards. The existing concrete frame has been repaired and a new façade installed including the iconic ‘Streets In The Sky’.
At the ground level of the building a new ‘high street’ of local shops, bars, pubs and restaurants has been established, revitalizing the public realm for both residents and visitors to Park Hill.
The apartments have been reinvented and refreshed, and their layouts subtlety altered and updated. Free flowing living space and full height glazing offer bright and covetable homes, a refreshing departure from many identikit developments. All apartments have a voluminous hall space and generous layout, as well as built in storage space, boutique-hotel-like bathrooms and intelligent detailing.
We were one of four interior designers selected to fit out a Park Hill show flat, illustrating how the apartments could become ‘home’. Our proposal ‘Second Life’ was a celebration of designers who have recycled, re-appropriated, refashioned, re-modeled or re-valued old pieces of furniture, a theme inspired by our own rejuvenation of Park Hill.
Softening a Megastructure
Historically the building has had an uncomfortable relationship with its landscape, sitting above and slightly alienated from the main city. Our masterplan addressed this through building a round-the-clock community of shops, bars, cafes and restaurants at ground level.
The green space, designed in collaboration with landscape architects Grant Associates, captures the rugged beauty of the nearby Peak District, with its angular forms and loose natural planting. Every green space in and around the building is purposeful – including allotments, children’s play areas and a bowling green. The result is a building that feels grounded within its very own parkland.
'I love you will u marry me?'
When we first visited Park Hill, a line of graffiti sprayed onto a concrete bridge, 30m off the ground, proclaimed ‘I love you will u marry me’? Originally one person’s very daring declaration of love, this slogan has been overwritten in neon and taken on by Urban Splash as a symbol of the estate’s regeneration. We have commissioned bespoke textile artworks to accentuate the romantic side of the estate.
Alex Turner, lead singer of Sheffield band The Arctic Monkeys, has worn the Park Hill slogan ‘I love you, will u marry me?’ on a t-shirt.