The Parkhill Flats - Sheffield, UK

Jack Lynn and Ivor Smith
Date Built
1957 - 1961
Park Hill
The Park Hill Flats are a huge housing development from the 1950s that literally looms over Sheffield Centre ranging along the skyline atop the hill behind Sheffield Station.  Inspired by the architecture of Le Corbusier, this structure was designed by Jack Lynn and Ivor Smith.  The flats were designed to replace the tenement slums that once occupied the site.  The Park Hill Flats were intended to provide modern homes beside "streets in the sky".  In the case of the Park Hill Flats this was literally true since the ramps and terraces that provided access to the flats were wide enough to drive vehicles along.  The milkman could still drop off bottles at each door from his milk float.

The construction involved an exposed concrete frame filled in with walls of yellow, orange and red brick.  The complex incorporated blocks that varied from eight to thirteen storeys.  It also offered a shopping precinct and a primary school.  Neighbours were rehoused from their slum houses into adjacent flats in an attempt to preserve communities.  However, as with similar developments of that era, what started out well ended badly.  A combination of building flaws, that resulted in serious problems for residents, and increasingly lawlessness behaviour resulted in people moving out in large numbers and difficulty in finding people wanting to move in.  Apparently it became known as San Quentin.

It was therefore quite a surprise when in 1998 it was designated as a Grade II Listed building.  Critics thought that it would be more appropriate to demolish them rather than protect them.  Since then Urban Splash and English Heritage have set to work on restoring the two 13-storey blocks.  They stripped back each block to the concrete frame and set to work to create "upmarket apartments" and "social housing units".  That work is still underway.

The site had a famous piece of graffiti which said, "Clare Middleton I love you will u marry me" written on one of the bridges that link the blocks.  Urgan Splash have selected that as a theme for the new building and "imortalized" it in neon on the bridge.

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