Healing the city: Sheffield’s ‘project of the decade’
Recently named ‘Development of the Decade’ at the Sheffield City Region Insider Property Awards, the Heart of the City project in Sheffield has over the last several years made an important contribution to the city and the region. Our involvement began in 1994 when we were appointed by the City of Sheffield to develop a masterplan to revitalise the city centre.
The plan sought to re-establish an urban grain which had been broken apart by the council’s civic offices, a 1960s era block that did little to contribute to the city’s public realm, and the scars left by a post-war inner ring road. Our proposals forged stronger connections between the city centre and Sheffield railway station while better integrating Arundel Gate, a segment of the ring road that had split the city centre. The masterplan also reinvented Peace Gardens as a major public space and re-instated a clear urban structure with smaller buildings on the site of the neighbouring 1960’s council building, which has since been demolished.
Our involvement continued in the design of three new buildings at the heart of the site: 1 & 2 St Paul’s Place and Charles Street Car Park. This trio are important pieces of the larger masterplan and have helped to re-establish a central business district in Sheffield’s city centre.
1 & 2 St Paul’s Place sit overlooking the Peace Gardens in central Sheffield, their form shaped by the public squares surrounding them and their size dictated by the existing neighbouring buildings. Since opening in 2007, they have attracted a range of occupiers including law firm DLA Piper, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and the Departments for Education and Business Innovation & Skills. Similarly, the Charles Street Car Park slots into the environment and features a unique facade design which has become a symbol of Sheffield’s rejuvenation. Both projects have already been the recipients of a host of regional awards, and Charles Street won two RIBA awards and was named one of the world’s coolest car parks.
The issue Sheffield faced – of having its city centre’s grain and scale injured by development decisions taken in the years following the Second World War – is one familiar to other cities. In gently repairing the damage done, this work has helped to establish a regional centre and attract both people and business back into the city.