Opinion: Charter Square is a beautiful public space

This letter sent to the Star was written by Richard Watts, Artist Craftsman

By Reader Letter
Friday, 24 May, 2019, 06:50
An artist's impression of Grosvenor House in Charter Square, the first phase of Heart of the City 2, formerly the New Retail Quarter. Offices for HSBC will sit above retail space.

On Tuesday evening this week I was giving a talk at the Central Library as part of the Ruskin Bicentenary series.

I was reflecting on the inspiration of John Ruskin’s writings, particularly his ‘Seven Lamps of Architecture’ in the public realm of Sheffield.

In this book John Ruskin sets out seven ‘guiding lights for good architecture’ and how it should bring life, beauty and joy to our cities.

Ruskin brings home a few hard truths if excellence is to be achieved.

Designs must build on local character and history having confidence in local identity, they should avoid what is gimmicky or temporarily fashionable, they must show the deepest respect and love for good quality materials, avoiding what is fake or phoney, they should bring real craftsmanship to bear on the work.

This takes immense effort and perseverance.

During the evening I was told that the new Charter Square was now open so we wandered back to the car via this new public space.

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We were astounded.

Here is a new public space for Sheffield that encapsulates what John Ruskin had been writing about.

The use of massive boulders of Pennine sandstone, finely crafted stonework and stone sett work, sculptural street furniture, stunning lighting and beautiful planting make this a ‘must visit’ public space.

Well done to Sheffield City Council’s Landscape Architects – you have lifted our spirits in hard times and made something truly beautiful for our great city.

We look forward to your next project – which I gather is to connect Castlegate to the long isolated gem of Victoria Quays.

Keep up the good work.