Sheffield: The Latest Architecture and News
From its hilltop vantage point in the east end of Sheffield, UK, the Park Hill Estate surveys the post-industrial city which sprawls westwards. Its prominent location makes the estate highly visible and it has, over time, become engrained in the popular consciousness – a part of the fabric of the city. Although today it divides opinion, following its completion in 1961 it was hailed as an exemplary model for social housing. Designed by architects Jack Lynn and Ivor Smith under the supervision of Sheffield’s visionary City Architect John Lewis Womersley, the estate now stands as testament to an era when young British architects were revolutionizing the field of residential architecture with radical housing programs.
The Park Hill Estate was part of Womersley’s strategy to introduce more high-density housing to Sheffield, which he believed would foster a stronger sense of community than the ubiquitous back-to-back terraces. This policy went hand in hand with an urgent need for slum clearance; The Park, a slum so notorious for its high crime rate that it was known locally as ‘Little Chicago,’ was demolished to make way for the estate.
White Elephants: Over-Budget, Unsuccessful, and Embarrassing Architecture Projects From Around the World
Not every piece of architecture can be an economic and social success. But there is one dreaded term reserved for only the mot wasteful of projects: "white elephants." The term comes from a story of the kings of Siam, now Thailand, who would reportedly gift sacred albino elephants to courtiers they didn't like. Refusing the gift from the king would have been unacceptable, but being sacred, these animals were forbidden from work, leading the courtier to financial ruin—a fact the kings knew all too well.
Of course, in architecture the term "white elephant" is used frequently to disparage certain projects, and whether a project is deserving of such infamy is usually a matter of perspective. Often eyesores or reminders of poorly spent funds, these projects refuse to be forgotten despite few wanting to remember them. Dotted around the world and across history, they all have the same thing in common: although they may (or may not) have once looked good on paper, they probably should have just stayed on paper.
This episode of Section D, Monocle 24's weekly review of design, architecture and craft, examines the changing use and role of "one of the most simultaneously decried and admired materials in twentieth century architecture:" concrete. Exploring the "unlikely revival of a polarising product" in the cultural perception of many, this cheap, abundant and energy-hungry resource is studied as one of the most prolific and diverse building materials in history.
For this week's editions of Section D, Monocle 24's weekly review of design, architecture and craft, and The Urbanist, their weekly "guide to making better cities," the Monocle team travel across three continents exploring the seemingly illusive question of 'quality of life.'
In this week's edition of The Urbanist, and to coincide with Monocle's annual Quality of Life survey, Andrew Tuck examines why Tokyo is at the forefront of an urban-garden revolution, how the Austrian capital is planning on self-facilitating its development as a major business hub, and talks to Robert Doyle, Lord Mayor of Melbourne, about the apparent cultural boom currently taking place in his city. In Section D, Josh Fehnert transports listeners to the UK's "post-industrial heartland" to talk to the people behind this year's Sheffield Design Week, plus more.
Listen to both episodes after the break.
Sheffield born Alison Gill, later to be known as Alison Smithson, was one half of one of the most influential Brutalist architectural partnerships in history. On the day that she would be celebrating her 86th birthday we take a look at how the impact of her and Peter Smithson's architecture still resonates well into the 21st century, most notably in the British Pavilion at this year's Venice Biennale. With London's Robin Hood Gardens, one of their most well known and large scale social housing projects, facing imminent demolition how might their style, hailed by Reyner Banham in 1955 as the "new brutalism", hold the key for future housing projects?
With the recent news that Dutch practice Mecanoo, along with Penoyre & Prasad, have been selected for a £200 million new engineering campus at the University of Manchester, Amanda Baillieu of BDOnline argues that they "need to set their ambitions a whole lot higher." Alongside's Manchester's announcement, universities in Sheffield, Newcastle and Oxford also recently announced a big investment in their campuses. The trick, Baillieu suggests, will be in ensuring the architecture is not "safe and office-like" (which fits universities’ "business-like" mindset). As we enter a "golden age" in university capital investment, educational architecture will be playing a central role. Read the article in full here.
Four post-war buildings, including the Spectrum Building by Norman Foster and Capel Manor House by Michael Manser, have been elevated to the Heritage List by the UK's Architecture and Heritage Minister Ed Vaizey. Upon announcing the news, the Minister commented that in spite of England's "fine and wonderful built heritage it's sometimes forgotten that we have many outstanding modern buildings too." His listings show that "architecture in this country is very much alive and well in the modern world."
Read more about the buildings after the break...