Virtual experience transforms Sheffield's Park Hill into a 'time machine in which community and pride shine through'

Sheffield’s Park Hill holds a place in the heart of many local residents – as well as fans of Brutalist architecture nationwide. But now anyone from around the world can visit the building virtually and experience its past and present simultaneously.

By Ellen Beardmore
Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 6:00 am
The immersive experience allows people to see the past and present Park Hill simultaneously
The immersive experience allows people to see the past and present Park Hill simultaneously

Called ‘Space, Time and Streets in the Sky’, the virtual visit to Park Hill has real-life stories from people who have made the iconic location their home over the past 60 years and has just been launched.

The immersive experience was commissioned by XR Stories and created by the team at Human, which was the first business to move into Park Hill in 2013, in collaboration with academics from the University of York.

The research project explores whether it’s possible for an audience to experience the ‘personality’ of a location via the ‘spatial presence’ generated by virtual reality and the audio stories of past and present residents.

Poster birthday cards have been created to mark the 60th anniversary

Nick Bax, creative director at Human, said: “Space, Time and Streets in the Sky exudes vivid memories and stories from Park Hill’s residents, providing an intimate insight into life at the Sheffield landmark over the past 60 years.

"As you hear their testimonies, and see slices of history within the current environment, Park Hill is transformed into a time machine in which community and pride brightly shine through.”

Park Hill flats, originally built as an innovative solution to slum clearance before falling into disrepair, becoming a listed building and being regenerated again, celebrated its 60th anniversary last month.

Featured in the virtual experience is Coun Pat Midgley who lived in the Park Hill area all her life.

The virtual experience brings Park Hill's past and present together

Pat was commemorated by Urban Splash and Places for People on the official 60th birthday of Park Hill by working with Sheffield City Council to rename Norwich Street at Park Hill, Pat Midgely Lane.

To watch the immersive experience click

Renowned photographer, multimedia artist and writer Martin Gray has also created a series of powerful, large scale poster artworks, on display throughout Sheffield, hosted by Jack Arts to vividly celebrate Park Hill’s 60th anniversary. They feature words by Sheffield’s poet laureate Warda Yassin.

The posters are the latest in a major multi-media series of explorations by Gray of Park Hill and its people.

The unique ‘birthday card’ posters feature stills and quotes from Martin Gray’s critically acclaimed Park Hill themed short film, We Were Never Derelict.

Stills from the film also feature on major internal and outdoor murals accented in the colours of the revitalised Park Hill.

This major multimedia series of works by Gray was initially supported by the specialist developers Alumno and Places for People who created the Béton House student accommodation, which forms phase 3 of the Park Hill redevelopment. Gray’s artworks are also incorporated into the communal areas within Béton House, and as a large semi permanent mural hoarding stretching the length of a walkway between phases .

His poignant and humorous film focuses on people in the construction team who grew up in and around Park Hill, then proudly worked on its renovation, alongside stories from residents.