During Week 2, Studio 4 visited Mesters’ Works in the Neepsend area of Sheffield, to participate in a Workshop lead by students from the University of Sheffield.
Formerly the site of TSL Turton spring manufacturers, Mesters’ Works has since been adopted by a group of Events Managers who now run the building – which is owned by a private corporation as is much of the city. The events management collective decided to let out the spaces as offices and workshops at a low cost, mostly to those working within the creative arts, in order to encourage and support young enterprises in the local area.
Figure 1. Tenants at Mesters’ Works (Author, 2016)
The concept of the scheme links back to the Cutler’s ‘little Mesters’ principle. When looking at the history of many businesses in Sheffield, a lot were not much more than one or two man operations. These workers would be self-employed and rent out spaces in a workshop – much like the tenants at Mesters’ Works. The word ‘Mester’ basically derives from the word ‘Master’, as the workers were typically masters of a particular skill involving making things by hand.
The aim of the workshop was to re-design a room within Mesters’ Works to be used as a communal space which would encourage collaborations between the Crafters working within the building.
Comparing Mesters’ Works to our site:
Mesters’ Works has a lot of similarities to the site at little London Road. Both sites comprise of former factories in which the units have been adapted by their users to suit a variety of different usages, be it commercial, leisure, or creative arts.
The image below shows the interior of the ‘Depot Bakery’ at Mesters’ Works. The original use of the space is still obvious from the unaltered concrete factory floor complete with tracks. The users have modified the space cheaply and efficiently by simply adding a service counter made from blockwork, and applying a lick of paint – great example of hacking.
Figure 2. Depot Bakery Sheffield (Nibbly Pig, 2015)
In a similar manner, the Climbing Works at the site off Little London Road has an ad hoc fit-out which impacts very little on the shell of the building. The saw-tooth roof demonstrates an earlier purpose of the building as a space for manufacturing.
Figure 3. The Climbing Works (Randall, J., 2012)
Both Mesters’ Works and Centenary Works consist of several units which open out onto an internal Courtyard. This is more successful at Mesters’ works where the courtyard is not being used for car-parking. As suggested in the post ‘The Courtyard – A Social Hub?’ the courtyard at our site could be improved if instead of for parking it could be used for play and socialising. Like at Mesters’ Works it could be a social hub and tie together the groups within the surrounding businesses, perhaps also encouraging collaboration between the tenants.