Ambitious £12.8m plan to turn Sheffield’s Canada House into music hub for youngsters takes a step closer

An ambitious plan to turn a listed city centre building into Harmony Works, a central hub for the city’s young musicians, has taken a major step forward.

By Julia Armstrong
Tuesday, 2nd August 2022, 5:16 pm

Plans submitted to Sheffield City Council propose to turn Canada House on Commercial Street into a centre which will allow children across the city to practise, create and perform music.

It brings together Sheffield Music Hub and the city’s Music Academy.

The £12.8m plan will transform the existing grand five-storey building, which began life in 1874 as the Sheffield United Gas Light Company, and include a new free-standing tower to be built in the rear courtyard.

This image from Canada House architects Evans Vettori shows Harmony House music hub with the new five-storey tower behind the building on Commercial House, Sheffield city centre

New spaces include the five-storey service tower and a ground-floor performance area called The Pedestal, to be used for informal concerts.

A separate building in the courtyard, called the Sound Box, will feature two large rehearsal rooms “conceived as a timber sound box”, say architects Evans Vettori, based in Matlock.

The rehearsal rooms can accommodate a small orchestra or group.

"To broaden the outreach of musical education in Sheffield”

This image from Canada House architects Evans Vettori shows Harmony House music hub on Commercial House, Sheffield city centre with the stainless steel balustrade added to the front of the building

The new buildings will be linked to Canada House and each other and the frontage of the old building will be more or less as it looks today. A mirrored stainless steel balustrade next to the entrance will include the words Harmony Works.

The main building will be turned into teaching and practice spaces and there will also be a cafe.

The architects say in their application: “The key project objective is to broaden the outreach of musical education in Sheffield.

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Canada House on Commercial Street in Sheffield city centre, where a new music centre Harmony House is planned using Levelling Up funding announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in his Autumn Budget

“The central location of Canada House, with sustainable public transport options on its doorstep, presents a valuable place for this.

“The project looks to enhance the access to the building for a variety of users – including students, parents, the wider Sheffield community – introducing measures to make the building accessible.”

The building takeover has been supported by a successful bid by the council to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund. The £20m will also be spent on Castlegate and Park Hill Art Space, bringing a sculpture park to the renovated high-rise estate.

Initial consultation on Harmony Works ends tomorrow, August 2. A decision on whether the council can approve the plan is due by August 31.