The Best Buildings in Sheffield, England – #2
Park Hill was one of many brutalist apartment blocks build in the city during the late 1950s and 1960s which were designed to replace the inner-city slums of the early twentieth century. Park Hill is the largest and most famous of these, having opened in 1961 and eventually given Grade II* listed status in 1998 due to its historical and architectural significance. With 874 apartments it is the largest listed building in Europe.
Source: Paolo Margari
After a long period of decay and a declining number of households, the estate is currently being developed by Urban Splash, a company best known for redeveloping old manufacturing or industrial sites into residential properties.
The estate was originally designed by Jack Lynn and Invor Smith, who began working on the plans just after the end of World War II. Inspired by Le Corbusier, Park Hill’s brutalist appearance features the style’s classic exposed concrete. Each floor is considered a ‘street in the sky’ with wide hallways giving access to each apartment. The sloping, uneven site means that each floor (apart from the highest) has direct access to the ground at some point. The roof-level was designed to remain consistent despite the building variating between four and thirteen storeys. Sitting on one of Sheffield’s seven hills, it dominates the skyline across large parts of the city.
Over the decades the council estate became known as an undesirable place to live, which crime being a major problem. After its listing in 1998, the city’s council hoped to attract investment to renovate the building. Eventually Urban Splash (in partnership with English Heritage) developed a scheme to slowly transform building into a mix of modern apartments and business units. The first phase involves the transformation of Park Hill’s north block, with fifty-two apartments available for both private ownership and social housing.