OLD chimneys transformed into hanging gardens?
Unused car parking spaces turned into allotments?
Or how about a forgotten tunnel regenerated as a public swimming pool?
Maybe so – but these are just some of the ideas expected as part of a high-profile nationwide competition, launched today, to transform some of Sheffield’s so-called forgotten spaces.
Architects, artists and designers are being asked to come up with innovative ways to develop neglected patches of land or buildings into mini urban gems and ‘destination’ sites.
A similar scheme run in London last year was a resounding success, but this is the first time the competition - supported by Sheffield stars Richard Hawley, Matt Helders and Pete McKee - has taken place outside of the capital.
“Sheffield is home to some of the best contemporary public spaces and architecture in the region,” says Claire Hutchinson, of RIBA Yorkshire, project organisers along with Sheffield Hallam University. “But there are still plenty of overlooked and neglected sites. The competition is open to people across the UK to use their imagination in presenting regeneration ideas for parts of the city.
“The space could be small or large - a grassy verge, a wasteland, an unused car park, a derelict building or underpass or flyover. The proposal could be simple or complex, commercial or public, a piece of public art or a new building. But the requirement is that it responds to the area and serves a function for the local community.”
The only drawback?
There’s no absolute guarantee the competition - the winner of which gets £5,000 - will result in any changes actually being made to the city.
It’s an ideas-generating project only. For now.
“That’s not to say we wouldn’t like the winning idea - and a few more besides - to be turned into reality at some point,” says John Palmer, director of communications with Sheffield Hallam. “Certainly we’d encourage the council and developers to look at all entrants and, if they show potential and if they’re popular and if they improve on what is already there, to consider the feasibility of developing the plans if possible.
“The idea, though, is that this will inspire people to think about these forgotten spaces and how they could be transformed to make life more pleasant for the local community.”
Indeed, Sheffield Council’s Community Assemblies will be directly involved with the contest by recommending pieces of land in their district which they would like to see developed.
The short-listed proposals will be showcased in a public exhibition at the Crucible Theatre in September before a winner is announced at a reception later the same month.
Registration deadline is March 30 with the competition closing for entries on Thursday, May 12.