‘buildings’

I have always been pretty interested in architecture. Well, I say architecture, but I really mean ‘buildings’, as I have little interest in the intricacies of structural design, more the aesthetics and history. It’s been something I thought about a lot when I was here last weekend, and all this has current running through it, with the recent listing of a 1970s shopping centre in Milton Keynes and the debates over whether Castle Market should be demolished and the remains of the old Sheffield Castle uncovered, or whether the market should actually be listed.

Giving it listed status would mean that it would be much harder to press ahead with some elements of the Sheffield City Centre Master Plan, notably the idea to open up the ruins of the old castle, which are located under the current 1960s market building. (source)

As the next stage in its pursuit of regeneration, Sheffield Council had long planned a demolition job around the maligned, woe begotten Castle Gate. The city’s indoor market would finally meet the wrecking ball, and in its place would be the same soullessly stylish offices, bars and boutiques which have been such a feature of the city’s attempts to remake itself.

What’s made the council’s plans slightly more interesting is the promise to uncover the ruins of the Medieval Castle near where the market now stands, emphasising an oft-forgotten part of Sheffield’s rich history. Alas, the work of town planning never runs smoothly, and some mischievous bugger has applied for English Heritage to make the market a Listed Building.

From myself, this is crass when over the road is the old Sheffield Old Crown Court and down the road The Post Office both going to ruin i like what is going on in Sheffield the flow is right and for once the planners seem to have got things right, I have all ways been on the side of demolition opening the old Castle and creating a park.

Anyway this brings us back to Park Hill,  and all of this has got me wondering about what we preserve of our past, and how. I live in Sheffield where the city centre skyline is dominated by the largest listed building in Europe, Park Hill. It was listed as a great example of its type of architecture to much controversy and there have been long debates over its future as long as I’ve lived here (and probably as long as it’s been built). I can see the arguments both for and against its demolition and it really is a tricky one – it’s so iconic, yet it’s so ugly, like pretty much all 60s architecture – and it has had more than its share of problems.

I spent a lot of time on the estate in the late 90s so I knew it pretty well, and could see where the potential had been in its initial conception, but also how that had fallen apart. Lately it’s been under very slow redevelopment by Urban Splash, which has meant adding lots of colour to it. Now the redevelopment will hopefully end up looking really good and will make Park Hill functional again – but at the same time, it runs the risk of ruining its Park Hill-ness and taking away its iconic appearance.

I am generally a person that likes some of the new and the shiny. I all so love decay and ruin and I loath neatness and cleanness, but as I get older and more nostalgic/sentimental, I can see the value in preserving some of the old. I think it’s important we keep iconic buildings from as many eras as possible around so that we can see how our nation has developed, and how architecture and styles change.

Most 60s buildings, particularly public buildings and housing estates, were ugly, but if we destroy everything from that time, what remains of our past? The question is how to do acknowledge and remember the past without either leaving ugly misplaced eyesores around, or changing buildings beyond all recognition but maintaining their usefulness – and of course, we need to decide which aspects of our history are worth preserving – a market area that is classically 60s and famously Sheffield (but incredibly run down) or the older ruined castle beneath it, for example?

Down Exchange Street Sheffield Canal Basin is a large canal basin in Sheffield, England. It was constructed 1816–1819 as the terminus of the Sheffield Canal (now part of the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation) and includes the former coal yards of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway. The basin ceased operation as a cargo port in 1970 and the site and buildings were largely neglected. A restoration and redevelopment of 1992–1994 reopened the site providing new office and business space and leisure facilities as well as berths for leisure canal boats. There are a number of Grade II listed buildings on the site. These include the original Terminal Warehouse of 1819, the Straddle Warehouse (1895–1898), a grain warehouse (c1860), and a curved terrace of coal merchant’s offices (c1870). This has been empty from 1994 and the whole area is underused.

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