This development of the complex I could see

This is a research portfolio where I will explore and gain an
understanding of the ambitious Park Hill estate. Firstly, I will look at the
history of the building and research how it has changed throughout the decades,
gaining a deeper insight into the context, function and future speculations of
the structure. I will investigate the place that once was a fantastic utopia that
improved people’s lives, taking a look into its decline and rebuild. Why has
this building created much controversy among the public? I see this building
every day as it dominates the skyline above Sheffield’s railway station, like
many people I perceived these flats as an eyesore. It wasn’t until I actually
visited park hill that I saw it was more than a derelict block of concrete,
whilst admiring the new development of the complex I could see why this
building was once seen as a symbol of new beginnings. I took great interest in
the mixed use of industrial materials in addition to the structural design of
the interior. My aim is to carry out further research on Park Hill’s architecture,
spatial language and design, this will benefit my idea development throughout
this project.

 

Park Hill is a former council estate located near to the centre of
Sheffield, South Yorkshire. Notably it is the largest listed building in
Europe, having been given its grade II status in 1998, this means that
Sheffield City Council have the responsibility to preserve it and it cannot be
demolished. Built over one of the city’s seven hills east of the mainline train
station, the building is significantly visible with its large structure which
consists of 998 units covering 400 acres of land. Park Hill is currently foregoing
redevelopment with the regeneration company, urban splash. Giving a new ease of
life to the decrepit housing estate, transforming it into stylish contemporary
apartments and commercial space for the residents.

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The major industrial city of Sheffield brought many trade workers to the
factories and workshops during the 19th century. This resulted in
the build of terraced back to back housing to accommodate the newly arriving
working families. This grid of overly populated houses resided in an area
polluted by smoke from the city centre and nearby railway and soon became ill
suited for the residents especially due to open sewage, contaminated water
supplies and shared standpipe which contributed to the numerous cholera
outbreaks within the area which claimed over 400 lives.

 

There remained a pressing need for more council homes due to the
devastation caused by the second world war. By 1939 the steep hillside of
Sheffield park was cleared of its slums, allowing the council to introduce a
proposal for an innovative redevelopment in order to rehouse people within the
city. With the vision of two young architects Jack Lyn and Ivor Smith, who
believed that architecture had the power to solve society’s problems and had aims
to relieve the pressures of overcrowding, they started development in 1957 in a
radical scheme, creating the ‘streets in the sky’ This became internationally
recognized and played a big part in generating the city’s new image at the time
of its completion in 1961. Housing thousands of previous residents, this style
of development helped recreate a community as families were rehomed next to one
another and former street names used on the decks. This was a vast improvement
on the slum housing which they replaced.

 

Unfortunately, during the 1980’s the country was in a time of
unemployment, strikes and thousands of jobs were lost within the steel
industry. Downfall in the economy saw costs rise therefore maintenance,
security and repairs could not be afforded, resulting in the decay of the once
thriving estate. After over a decade of decline Park Hill became a well-known
place of anti-social behaviour and poverty, leaving a negative space the
tenants were desperate to get out of.

 

 

 

 

The design of Park Hill estate was led by an innovative and imaginative
solution to address the visual impact and impact on the social issues of high
rise housing, harnessing the geological challenge of building on a large escarpment.
The building has been cleverly designed to adapt to its landscape using the
sloping hillside whilst keeping a constant roof level, as the blocks are varied
in height ranging from four to thirteen storeys.  With the uniquely continuous system of wide
covered decks which link the flats together, a large sheltered area was
provided for the occupants with also the added benefit of vehicular
segregation.

 

Park Hill is an example of post war architecture, the complex is made up
of a series of interconnected concrete blocks which snake across the hills of
Sheffield. The brutalist design concept of the estate was inspired by Le
Corbusier’s Unite d’habitation development, an architect and urban planner who
influenced the brutalist movement, a French term which means raw, defining the
expressive use of rough unfinished surfaces and textures combined with bold
geometrics of the structure. Architectural partners Alison and Peter Smithson
also championed the new style of modernism and inspired aspects of Park Hill.
The brutalist movement was popular in the country from the 1950’s until early
1970’s.

 

To achieve the new recent construction of the building, the entire block
of flats was gutted internally leaving behind the original gridded concrete
framework, conserving the vital architectural features. The faded brick from
the early exterior have been replaced with a new façade of anodised aluminium
panels of similar tones, this will prevent fading and will create a vibrant
modular structure. The brutalist aesthetic of the building has been combined
with exposed metal fixtures, glass, wood and coloured plastic to create a distinctive
contemporary and industrial quality.

 

Park Hill now has spacious one and two-bedroom duplex, dual aspect
apartments, the changes made to the original structure now includes a spacious
floorplan and deliberate visibility of certain surfaces. The features that
didn’t work the first time have now been restored and redesigned in a more
fitting way to prevent failures of the previous build. The old lattice windows
have been replaced by large areas of glass, providing extensive views across
the city creating a greater openness. External spiralled stairways have been
designed using mirrored metal material, reflecting views of the cityscape.
Through later years the revitalized complex will consist of 874 new apartments
for sale and rent whilst the lower floors will soon offer 7,600sqm of
commercial space intended for shops, studios and social venues. Increasing
occupant diversity and making the space a lively and sustainable community.

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