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Mikhail Riches gets go-ahead for phase two of Park Hill estate revamp

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London-based Mikhail Riches has won planning permission from Sheffield City Council for the next wave of housing at Park Hill estate

The plans for the second phase of the Brutalist landmark’s makeover include 199 homes and 1,950m² of commercial space.

The scheme is part of the ongoing redevelopment of Ivor Smith’s Grade II*-listed estate (1957-1961), following on from the 2013 Stirling Prize-shortlisted, 260-apartment first phase, delivered by Hawkins\Brown and Studio Egret West.

Mikhail Riches won the competition to design the second phase – which will retain more of the original fabric, compared with the first stage – in March 2016, when it was selected ahead of alma-nac, Architecture 00, Project Orange, Group Ginger from Leeds and local practice OS31. 

Following the granting of the approval, practice director Annalie Riches said: ‘Park Hill is a fascinating puzzle of a building. The rational order of the façade certainly isn’t reflected in the plan and, without the original architect’s drawings, we’ve had to undertake a flat-by-flat analysis of the blocks in order to create our new arrangement for the building. In this process we discovered a legacy of personalisation by houseproud former occupants and we’ve taken inspiration from this to create the detailing of our renovation.’

Park Hill is a fascinating puzzle of a building

She added: ‘Phase 1 of Park Hill did a fantastic job. Thanks to its success, we’ve been able to take a different approach and retain more of the original fabric of the building for Phase 2.

’Future visitors to Park Hill will be able to read the history of the estate by looking closely at the buildings and it feels exciting to be standing at the point where the past and present of Park Hill meets its future.’

There are several other projects in hand at the estate, which is being redeveloped by Urban Splash, including recently approved temporary art studios by OS31

And in November 2017 Carmody Groarke won the contest to design a £21 million cultural centre within the so-called ’streets in the sky’ estate.

Mark Latham, regeneration director at Urban Splash, said: ’This is an exciting period for Park Hill and we will be making further announcements about our ongoing work with project partners Alumno and S1 Artspace on other elements of the regeneration. Park Hill already has an engaged and lively community of 600 people who live and work in the Phase 1. We know they will be delighted to see the rest of the building coming alive.’

Mikhail Riches’ proposed Phase 2 scheme will deliver 43 one-bedroom homes, 137 two-bedroom homes and 19 three-bedroom homes.

Architect’s view

We have taken a light-touch approach to the project, retaining and repairing the parts of Park Hill that work, such as the concrete frame, brick infill panels and party walls. This approach preserves more of the original building fabric, is cost-efficient and minimises construction waste. Layers of insulation and insulated render will be added to bring the energy performance of the building up to modern standards.

Internally, the size and layout of the historic flats do not meet modern expectations will be reconfigured. This will be done in a way that works with the very specific constraints of the existing building: for example bedsit flats will be eliminated and incorporated within a new knock-through flat type, with double-width balconies. All of the new flats will have generous open plan living spaces, orientated to take advantage of the best views.

On our trips around the empty Park Hill building, our team noticed that some past residents has painted the walls of their balconies to personalise their flats. The designers recognised this desire to be able to identify your own home within the regular grid of the exterior and proposed introducing colour to the ‘cheeks’ and soffit of the external balcony reveals. This treatment will enhance the sculptural qualities of the existing façade and each flat will be given its own subtly different hue, allowing new residents to recognise their own flats within the whole.

Each front door will be painted the same unique colour as the balcony reveals, reinforcing the sense of identity for each flat. Another detail we discovered was the use of small squares of patterned lino, bought by residents to personalise their front step. Mikhail Riches has supersized these patterns, integrating them into the new surface of the streets in front of each doorway to create delineated space for each flat.

One of the defining features of Park Hill was its ‘streets in the sky’ – exterior walkways wide enough for a milk cart to pass along. These were identified as one of the characteristic but problematic features of the building. Mikhail Riches proposes a reinvention of the streets, maintaining their full width and creating active spaces for the residents of the building, with bike parking, buggy storage and space for children to play. The streets will be paved with a rubber crumb surface, which will reduce the sound of footsteps and echoes of activity on the streets for residents. Full-height sidelights to the front doors will create a visual link from the flats onto the street.

A new double-height lobby will be created within the base of the existing building, providing access to the flats and a newly landscaped residents’ garden within the existing courtyard. Existing goods lift shafts will be glazed and new passenger lifts installed to provide access for residents. The glazing will be illuminated at night, creating a recognisable beacon that can be viewed across Sheffield.

Park Hill phase II - competition run by Urban Splash

Park Hill phase II - competition run by Urban Splash

The winning team pictured in 2016  (left to right): Cameron Clarke, David Mikhail, Alim Saleh and Annalie Riches

Project team

Client Urban Splash, Places for People
Architect Mikhail Riches
Landscape Austin-Smith:Lord
Project management Broadfield Project Management
Structural engineer Civic Engineers
Mechanical and electrical engineer Beechfield Consulting Engineers
Transport engineer Civic Engineers
Principal designer (CDM) Rawlings
Building control Carillion Specialist Services

See images and drawings of Hawkins\Brown’s Park Hill revamp in the AJ Buildings Library

Park Hill

Park Hill

Source: Sheffield City Architects Dept/Ivan George Richmond

Park Hill in the 1960s

See the original Park Hill drawings in the AJ Buildings Library 

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