Park Hill Art Space: Plans lodged for major gallery in next phase of estate’s revamp

Plans have been lodged for a multi-million-pound cultural centre at Sheffield’s Park Hill estate.

Wednesday, 20th February 2019, 1:10 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th February 2019, 1:12 pm
How the Park Hill Art Space will look inside.

The Park Hill Art Space will form part of the fourth phase of the Grade II* listed brutalist complex's ongoing revamp, focusing on the disused, 7,200 sq m Duke Street block. An application has been submitted to Sheffield Council jointly by S1 Artspace, which will operate the new venue, and developer Urban Splash which is renovating the wider site.

A new-build 600 sq m gallery is proposed along with studio space for 50 artists, educational facilities and a permanent display telling Park Hill’s story, which started in 1961 when it was created as a bold experiment in social housing, famous for its ‘streets in the sky’. Urban Splash, meanwhile, will be adding more residential homes to the block on the upper floors, a measure that is intended to speed up delivery of the scheme and bring down costs.

How the Park Hill Art Space will look inside.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

S1 was founded by a group of Sheffield artists in 1995 to offer affordable workspaces; it originally operated from rooms above the Corporation nightclub in Trafalgar Street, then took larger premises next door. When the lease on that site expired, the organisation decamped to The Scottish Queen, a once-notorious former pub at Park Hill - now a former garage that sits in the middle of the estate is to be its temporary home for five years. The interim base will eventually be knocked down.

London-based architects Carmody Groake have been hired to design the Park Hill Art Space. The gallery will jut out from the Duke Street wing, joining on to a foyer in what was The Link pub. Completion is anticipated in 2023/24, a timeline governed by important funding rounds set by Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, who will potentially be meeting much of the cost, which was previously put at £21 million but is likely to be less.

S1 says the project will provide a ‘nationally significant centre for arts, culture and heritage for Sheffield at Park Hill, alongside residential housing set in a new parkscape’.

“It is part of wider strategic plans to provide ever better infrastructure for art, culture and heritage in Sheffield, South Yorkshire and the wider North. The new landscape will connect the south and the north of the estate and re-establish the pedestrian access routes to the city centre, as well as provide a distinctive and welcoming environment to experience the varied topography and views of the site for the local residents, community and visitors. The scheme provides a pedestrian link through the block from Duke Street.”

How Park Hill Art Space, and the renovated Duke Street block, will look.

Last summer Stephen Escritt, S1’s strategic development director, gave an idea of the type of proposition Sheffield can expect. "It's not going to be on the same scale as Baltic in Gateshead, say, but from a gallery point of view it will be a bit like Nottingham Contemporary,” he said.

In 2018 the arts organisation staged the popular and critically acclaimed exhibition ‘Love Among the Ruins’, which brought together photographs taken on the Park Hill and Hyde Park estates in the 1960s and 1980s. The gallery is now hosting ‘Construction House’, a series of exhibitions highlighting the work of artists based at S1’s studios, inspired by the Bauhaus school.

Park Hill’s redevelopment began in 2007. Phase one, containing 260 apartments as well as office space, was finished in 2011; work on the second and third stages, bringing further flats and student accommodation, is under way. It became Europe’s largest listed building in 1998, protecting it from demolition after the complex fell into disrepair, blighted by crime.

The estate has inspired a new musical, Standing At The Sky’s Edge, by Sheffield singer-songwriter Richard Hawley and city-born dramatist Chris Bush, which starts at the Crucible Theatre next month.

Stephen Escritt in front of the Duke Street wing at Park Hill. Picture: Dean Atkins