A quick study shows that certain materials on site and in the surrounding area have been sourced from the region: Stairfoot bricks can be seen, as well as grate and drain covers using Sheffield metal, with one coming from Blake’s Foundry; a Sheffield based engineering company opened in 1818, with the foundry shutting in 2005.
Even the new development on Little London Road is being carried out by a Sheffield based contractor; Mack Construction. (Behind this resi development you can see the Abbey Glen Laundry warehouse, a build worth noting as the company had an impact on the surrounding area).
The area seems to be (or having previously been) teeming with locality; the use of local manufacturers supports the idea of regionalism and the reinforcement of a sense of place, contrasting the idea of the exhaustion and lack of pride that can be felt on site. The issues arise in the lack of cohesion in terms of architecture and use: Shoddy, ‘quick-fix’ refurbs, a lack of building maintenance and a… less than subtle office block on Little London Road demonstrates a changing mindset from the historic to the contemporary and through people and developments over the years lacking sensitivity.
At it’s heart, the site feels like a cliche of industrial Sheffield; terraced housing backing on to work places. For me, reinstating the spirit of the place in a contemporary manner following philosophies and theories on Critical Regionalism and phenomenology could be an exciting proposition; be it a small intervention or a landmark building, a proposal should enhance the sense of cohesion on site.
This said, being careful not to fall in to the modern cliches of ‘Steel City’ can be just as crucial.