In their conservation bulletin this month, English Heritage used Park Hill as an example of a successful historic building conversion. In it, they analysed how developers can create sensitively designed new homes while conserving and enhancing heritage.
As part of the feature, I was given the opportunity to write a more in-depth article about the general Urban Splash approach to redevelopment; I focussed on Park Hill, a scheme I called our ‘poster-boy of regeneration’.
We’ve worked closely with English Heritage on many occasions - but the relationship’s grown especially strong at Park Hill. There, they’ve proved crucial consultants on the preservation of the building - especially the intricacies of matching the original concrete facade and panels.
You can read the full article here, or there’s an excerpt below. Enjoy!
“Park Hill in Sheffield is our current poster-boy Grade II* listed regeneration project. Unapologetically projecting its Brutalist facades towards the city, it is currently being redeveloped into a mixed-use scheme of over 900 homes. We released the first phase in 2012 to critical acclaim – it was shortlisted for the Stirling prize – and was a commercial success.
In a sea of housing mediocrity, the symbolism of an established landmark building can provide an opportunity to create something unique. Historic refurbishments were initially driven by the demand for loft-style apartments. Decades later, people view these buildings as being warm, characterful and full of monetary and social value.
It’s fair to say that where there is demand in a property market, there is value. Urban Splash has been able to deliver this on a variety of projects by creating a product that is contemporary in design terms – and thus palatable to the requirements of the modern marketplace – but that avoids pastiche.
One of our guiding principles is to be respectful of the original building fabric – not just the elements of architectural interest but also the textures, materials and sheer volume that combine to portray the history of these buildings.Working with the grain of the building is another priority, not forcing it to do things it doesn’t want to do. We always seek to retain the original structure when ever we can, but there at the same time not be afraid to change it where there is good reason.We strive to achieve a clear architectural language to articulate and express the building inside and out. While concentrating on creating spacious, well- planned light and airy homes we also pay attention to the quality of common parts and the interaction of an historic building with its local surroundings at ground level.
Historic buildings are not just attractive develop ment proposals. They also retain their value over time, have the ability to leverage viability-gap or grant-funding subsidies and can contribute to wider regeneration efforts. Local authority master plans, development plans and economic strategies can target historic buildings for development with demonstrable results in terms of planning gain.
Alongside the economic rewards there is also the gain to conservation. By transforming redundant buildings into homes and giving them a new day- to-day use we are ensuring their preservation and ongoing maintenance for many generations to come.”