Forty Sheffield architects have drawn up visions of their dream future city. Colin Drury took a look...
Grass-laid green corridors stretching around the city? Open air roof-top nightclubs? Squares dotted with allotments? Historic buildings converted to boutique arcades?
Welcome to the Sheffield of the future. Er, possibly.
These are the ideas of some 40 city architects who set themselves the challenge of coming up with a better S1.
The designers, from a dozen South Yorkshire practices, have drawn up visions of their ideal Sheffield following the collapse of the Sevenstone development. They’ve done so in a bid to show the wealth of possibilities for the land which was supposed to become the New Retail Quarter.
And forget identikit shopping malls and modern apartments because among their proposals - which go on public display this week - are tree-lined boulevards running down the middle of roads, public roof top gardens, and upmarket designer shops built into the terrace along Pinstone Street.
Sounds too good to come true?
Perhaps so. But while some of the plans may seem a little far-fetched - a tram running past an independent cinema in Charter Square, anyone? - those who have come up with them reckon they should be taken seriously by Sheffield City Council.
Well, after all, with no visible progress on the NRQ for more than a decade, they need some inspiration from somewhere, don’t they?
“This was all about blue sky thinking,” says Emma England, a member of Sheffield Society of Architects which organised the Sheffield Design Summit event. “We wanted to come up with ideas without being constrained by red tape.
“But at the same time all these suggestions are eminently do-able. They are affordable, realistic and deliverable. Not everyone might want a rave on the roof of John Lewis - least of all John Lewis, perhaps - but it highlights how this could be an amazing public space if we use our imagination.”
And it seems the powers that be might just be listening. Council leader Julie Dore has met with representatives from the society to look at their ideas, and discuss how they might be used to inspire future development.
“Sheffield is blessed with great architectural practices and two great architectural schools - and we should be making the most of them,” Emma, who lives in Fulwood, tells The Diary while going through the artists impressions. “The whole Sevenstone scheme by Hammerson had some lovely design within it but it was an outdated model. I don’t think there’s many people who just want another Trinity Leeds here.
“We should have something different and fresh; and I think one of the best ways to come up with those ideas is to get local practices and local people involved and engaged.”
It might look like an unlikely image of Sheffield from the future. But perhaps it might just happen yet.
n Sheffield Design Summit shop window exhibition runs at The Cube, in Shoreham Street, city centre, this week.