Ssshh! It's Mecanoo's less-than-impressive UK debut
Readers might not have noticed Mecanoo’s first completed project in the UK – so here it is….
The Dutch-based practice, which has made the headlines with its contentious new Birmingham Library proposals, has understandably not been shouting about this small housing scheme in Sheffield.
The six-unit project, which was showcased in the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2006, marks the first phase of a larger 33-home development at Foxhill for developer Artisan.
But while the designs remain true-ish to the architects’ original intent, the finishes leave something to be desired. The practice admits the ‘heavily postponed’ development had ‘involved some value engineering’.
That’s an understatement according to an AJ spy: ‘The design of these units is quite satisfactory, but the cheap materials and shoddy workmanship ruin the buildings. I have never seen such poor stonework and the concrete copings mock the dry stone wall concept that is supposed to marry the houses to the superb countryside they look over.’
The scheme is part of the city’s wider regeneration programme looking at failing communities in Southey, Owlerton and Brightside Shiregreen
In response to the criticism a Sheffield City Council spokesman said: ‘We’re obviously disappointed that we’ve had negative feedback about the project at Foxhill as people’s views are important to us.
‘However, what we can say in response is that the project is in its initial phase and while we know there are elements the contractors are improving, such as replacing the temporary doors, we know the design would be a talking point. We wanted a development that makes the most of the fantastic views, doesn’t turn its back on the existing neighbourhood and offers a natural linkage to the countryside.’