Love, life and pride
A Stirling Prize-shortlisted housing regeneration scheme for Europe’s largest Grade II*-listed structure.
How do you turn a notoriously neglected estate on the outskirts of a city into a place where people actually want to live? Together with Urban Splash, and our collaborators Studio Egret West, we set about putting right nearly 30 years of neglect and misunderstanding; reconnecting Park Hill to Sheffield and turning it into a destination.
Historically the building had an uncomfortable relationship with its landscape, sitting above and slightly alienated from the main city. We addressed this by building a round-the-clock community of shops, bars, cafes and restaurants at ground level.
The most visually striking aspect of Park Hill’s transformation was the replacement of the original façade, of brick panels and timber windows, with brightly coloured anodised aluminium panels and large sections of glazing. These new window ‘cassettes’ introduce a shimmering and lustrous effect, with colours ranging from a dark aubergine at the lowest level of the building to a fizzy lime-green at the top.
Internally, the apartments were given a thorough face-lift and remodelled to 21st-century standards, with free-flowing space, full height glazing and generous layouts. Our fit-out of a show flat demonstrated how the apartments could become a home, celebrating designers who have recycled, re-appropriated, refashioned, re-modelled or re-valued old pieces of furniture.
Sustainability is embedded at Park Hill – to keep, make good and bolster the best parts of the original scheme. The retention, repair and upgrade of the original, 50 year old concrete frame is a primary example of this; in total over 5000 in situ concrete repairs were undertaken.
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.
When we first visited Park Hill, a line of graffiti was sprayed onto a concrete bridge, 30m off the ground, proclaiming: ‘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.
Hawkins\Brown and Studio Egret West have achieved something spectacular and the rebuilt apartments are a delight.