It’s allot to take in

Space: The allotment outside Debenhams
Space: The allotment outside Debenhams
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AS ideas go, most probably stand about as much chance of becoming reality as the gondolas once famously proposed for the River Don.

But a new exhibition showcasing 50 ways of improving Sheffield - from two massive biodomes at Parkwood Springs to an aerial walkway through Endcliffe Park - is set to be nothing if not thought-provoking.

Among the more eyebrow-raising proposals will be creating an urban allotment in Charter Square, transforming Rockingham Street Car Park into a drive-through cinema, and turning part of the Porter Brook into a swimming and watersport facility - complete, of course, with flumes.

“A lot of the ideas are very...ambitious,” admits organiser Ivan Rabodzeenko (pictured). “And that means it’s hard to conceive them ever happening but they can still be useful in inspiring discussions about how to build a better city.”

So, let’s discuss...

The proposals are the results of more than a decade’s worth of course work carried out by architecture, landscape and urban design students at Sheffield University.

Each year, scholars are asked to come up with fully costed and planned-out designs which could, in theory, improve the city’s built environment.

“The trouble is once the course work is finished, it’s marked, put in a drawer and no-one ever thinks about it again,” says Ivan, 24, who is running the project through the Shalesmoor, Kelham Island and Neepsend Network development agency which he manages. “That seemed like a waste so I asked if we could pick the best ideas from the last 10 years and put them on show to a wider audience. The staff jumped at the idea.”

The exhibition will be held as part of the upcoming Festival Of The Mind, an extravaganza of art and science events being run at venues across the city in September.

Further proposals included in the show will include building viewing platforms above The Moor where shoppers can escape the bustle of the street, transforming an empty Sharrow warehouse into a traders’ emporium, and creating a mini-museum in a single Park Hill flat showing how it would have looked in the 1960s.

“They’re all great ideas,” says Ivan, who has produced the exhibition with Jekaterina Porohina and Dr Cristina Cerulli. “Because of cost or lack of will, they might never happen but I still think they can be used as a spring-board for other ideas.

“Let’s use the biodomes at Parkwood Springs as an example. That might not happen but I see no reason why a community group couldn’t use the research already done to help them, say, build a nature trail. This exhibition isn’t just a mine of ideas, it’s a mine of information as well.”

Fifty Ideas For A Better Sheffield runs at CADS art complex in Smithfields from September 20 - 30. Entry free.

What is Festival of the Mind

THE Festival Of The Mind, which was exclusively announced in The Diary in March, will be an 11 day extravaganza set to entertain and enlighten Sheffield.

Poets, magicians, mind-readers and musicians - as well as scientists, architects, archeologists and psychologists and - will host performances, work shops and exhibitions at more than a dozen venues across the city.

It has been organised by Sheffield University and will be focused around a huge spiegeltent set up in Barker’s Pool between September 20 and 30.

A full calendar of events will be available at the end of the month at www.shef.ac.uk/festivalofthemind