Top ten architecture school shows: Laura Mark on the University of Sheffield
Sheffield School of Architecture likes to think of itself as the ‘most socially engaged school of architecture’, and this ethos certainly shines through at 2014’s end-of-year show. The students’ work is both engaging and deeply rooted in its context.
The school has a strong understanding of its place in the city of Sheffield, and projects created by the students really knit with the local identity. Entrenched in the politics of today, the work tackles a wide range of issues including the siting of High Speed 2, citizenship and the consequences of open data.
There is a strong emphasis on making within the school - both emphasised through the students’ model making, the topics of the projects and the school’s live-build work, which will next year expand into a prime spot in the city centre. The ‘project office’ will be manned by postgraduate students and will further embed the school in the heart of the city.
This is a school with a real sense of place, tackling real architecture. It is a pleasure to see.
Standout unit & students
The school has a strong studio ethos, and all units exhibited work of a high standard. But one of the standout MArch units has to be that led by Satwinder Samra and Leo Care. Themed around intergenerational architecture, the work looks at the issues surrounding an ageing demographic, exploring healthcare, education, living and recreation. With sites based in Sheffield and nearby Bingley, projects were varied and interesting. Students have explored not just issues of the ageing population, but also the effect increased numbers of older people would have on the provision of services for younger generations.
Part 2 student Neil Michels’ scheme really stood out, and has earned him a nomination for the RIBA President’s Medals. His project took the prominent John Lewis site in Sheffield city centre - land at the heart of much toing and froing as plans for the city’s new retail quarter run hot and cold - and transformed it into an urban centre and free school. Tackling the issues of our failing high streets, the project is intellectually clever while being impeccably presented. I especially liked Michels’ witty pop at Michael Gove’s rules for schools - with a rubber stamp on the plans wherever he had broken them.
- Laura Mark, technical reporter, The AJ