The merits and minefields of modern architecture: Three-day festival to put Sheffield's post-war buildings in focus

From the Brutalist flats at Park Hill to the monolithic Moore Street substation and the soaring university Arts Tower, Sheffield's collection of modernist buildings has long been a draw for lovers of a certain kind of post-war architecture.

The Moore Street substation in Sheffield, designed by Jefferson Sheard and Partners in the mid-1960s.
The Moore Street substation in Sheffield, designed by Jefferson Sheard and Partners in the mid-1960s.

Now these austere icons of the skyline are to be celebrated with a three-day festival in October.

Sheffield Modern - organised by listings website Our Favourite Places alongside the Sheffield Modernist Society - promises to examine this corner of the city's heritage with 'a programme of talks, walks, film screenings, exhibitions, workshops and more.'

The Grade II* listed Park Hill estate in Sheffield.

"The weekender aims to open up conversations about modern architecture in Sheffield – its merits as well as its minefields," said the organising team. "It'll look at the past and present of the city's public realm, and get people thinking about the shape of Sheffield in new ways."

Following a special launch event - the details of which have yet to be announced - there will be an evening bike ride to modernist landmarks, talks at the 1950s Victoria Hall, tours behind the scenes at the Crucible theatre and sessions for 'kids big and small to create their own cityscapes from cardboard or Lego.' Further events are planned and the full programme will be confirmed early next month.

The society was set up in 2016, following the success of a group in Manchester. There is an umbrella organisation - the Modernist Society - and a quarterly magazine, called The Modernist. Attitudes towards once-unloved buildings are changing; the National Trust has run tours of Park Hill and intends to have a permanent presence in a redeveloped wing of the Grade II* listed estate.

Lost buildings that have yielded to the bulldozers, such as the Hallam Tower in Broomhill, the Grosvenor Hotel in Charter Square and Castle Market, are expected to be highlighted too.

The Arts Tower, Sheffield University.

"Faded social housing utopias and fortress-like electricity substations. Iconic theatres and university tower blocks, all concrete and breeze blocks and glass. Pioneering post-war civic buildings, long-since demolished and to many sorely missed. Sheffield's experiments in modern architecture have played a significant role in defining the skyline and character of the city. This October, the first Sheffield Modern will celebrate this heritage of post-war architecture," the organisers said.

The festival runs from October 26 to 28. Visit to find out more.

A tour of the Crucible theatre is to be offered during Sheffield Modern.