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Rising UK stars vie for £21m Park Hill art gallery

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6a architects, Carmody Groarke and David Kohn Architects have been named among the six practices competing for a £21 million cultural centre within Sheffield’s Park Hill estate

The shortlist is completed by Architecture 00, Dow Jones Architects and last year’s Stirling Prize-winners Caruso St John in the S1 Artspace-backed competition which received a total of 32 entries.

The winner of the estimated £950,000 contract will draw up plans for a ‘national flagship’ arts venue within the Grade II*-listed Brutalist housing estate, which is mid-way through a major regeneration led by developer Urban Splash.

S1 artistic director and competition judge Louise Hutchinson said: ‘ The quality and range of applications we received reflects the enormous potential of this project and continued interest in Park Hill. We very much look forward to meeting the shortlisted teams and learning more about how they will approach this project.’

The Park Hill Art Space will occupy a large former residential block overlooking Duke Street at the northern end of the 160ha site. It will provide a permanent new 7,200m² home for local charity S1 Artspace, currently based inside Park Hill’s disused Scottish Queen public house.

S1 Artspace’s brief says that the heart of the Park Hill estate ‘will be transformed into an ambitious new national flagship for arts, culture and heritage at the largest listed structure in Europe.

‘By 2022 it is the intention to regenerate the northern flank of the Park Hill estate into a 7,200m² international centre for the production, exhibition and research of outstanding art and creativity, with one of the largest contemporary art galleries in the north. Park Hill Art Space will showcase a programme of contemporary art exhibitions and events dedicated to enabling the widest possible audience to make connections across the spectrum of art, society and culture.’

Park Hill was originally completed in 1961, designed by architects Jack Lynn and Ivor Smith under the supervision of John Lewis Womersley. It replaced a large area of back-to-back housing on a prominent hill-top site overlooking the South Yorkshire city. The entire estate – which featured 995 flats and maisonettes, four pubs and 31 shops – received Grade II* listed status in 1998.

Hawkins\Brown with Studio Egret West completed the first Stirling Prize-shortlisted phase of the project in 2013, featuring 260 homes, 3,000m² of commercial space and a nursery.

The £25 million second phase, by Mikhail Riches Architects and featuring 200 homes and 2,500m² of business space, will be submitted for planning later this month. Later phases include a £20 million student accommodation scheme.

The Park Hill Art Space will feature studios for artists and creative businesses, a research institute, an auditorium, learning space, archive, live-work flats, a production workshop, café, shop and an outdoor sculpture park. It is scheduled to complete in 2022.

Key elements of the project include external repairs to the envelope, a double-height extension and openings in the existing building fabric for double-height spaces and a new stair and lift core.

Judges include Hutchinson; Stephen Escritt of Counterculture; V&A design director David Bickle; Neil Jones of the City Regeneration Division at Sheffield City Council; and Satwinder Samra, S1 trustee and director of collaborative practice at Sheffield School of Architecture.

The six finalists will now develop conceptual proposals ahead of interviews in early September after which an overall winner will be announced.

The full shortlist

  • 6a architects
  • Architecture 00
  • Carmody Groarke
  • Caruso St John
  • David Kohn Architects
  • Dow Jones Architects


Q&A with S1 Artspace project champion Bob Kerslake

Bob Kerslake

Bob Kerslake

Bob Kerslake

What is your vision for the Park Hill Arts Space?

Our vision is to create a new national flagship for arts, culture and heritage at the largest listed structure in Europe. Led by S1 Artspace, the heart of the Grade II* listed Park Hill estate, will be transformed to establish - Park Hill Art Space - a new destination for arts and culture that will significantly enhance the cultural landscape of Sheffield.

An international centre for the production, exhibition and research of outstanding art and creativity with a distinct heritage offer, Park Hill Art Space will showcase a programme of contemporary art exhibitions and events dedicated to enabling connections across art, society and culture.

Park Hill

Park Hill

Park Hill

Park Hill Art Space will bring together national partner organisations, creative start-ups and a critically engaged community of artists, designers, makers and architects, to work alongside a world-class multi-disciplinary programme. Building on Park Hill’s architectural importance, complex social history and significance for Sheffield, Park Hill Art Space’s programme will become a catalyst for generating new and original artistic work.

Significantly, it will feature one of the largest contemporary art galleries in the North of England as well as artist studios, workspace for creative businesses, a research institute, auditorium, education and events suite, public heritage archive, live/work flats, production workshop, gallery shop, independent café and six-acre sculpture park.

Transforming a 6,455m² Grade II* listed residential block into a 7,200sqm international arts venue is of course very different to designing a building from scratch. We aim to achieve excellent environmental credentials, therefore adding a substantial exhibition space for contemporary art will no doubt require an innovative approach.

Park Hill

Park Hill

Park Hill

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

It will be very interesting to see the response this exiting project will generate. We hope the scheme will attract a broad spectrum of architects willing and able to take up the challenge of transforming a building of local and international significance and to contribute to the regeneration of the local area.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects be procured?

Park Hill is a site with a huge potential in the process of major transformation planned over the next five years. Selecting the right designer for the Park Hill Art Space and completing the scheme is S1’s priority at this stage – we will have to see where that takes us.

Are there any other similar conversions of historic buildings into cultural centres you have been impressed by?

Creating successful new spaces by bringing life back to existing buildings is not an easy task. The schemes that seem most successful have taken a sensitive approach to historic structures and their context, and actively contributed to regeneration of the local area, which is what we hope to achieve with Park Hill Art Space.

Park Hill

Park Hill

Park Hill


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