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Delivering a new home for the arts

Sheffield Hallam University is creating a prestigious new home for the arts by converting a former post office building in the city centre

Posted by Rebecca Paddick | December 30, 2015 | Facilities

UB spoke to the University and its partners in the development to find out more about the regeneration.

➡ Why did you decide to regenerate this particular building?
Sally Wade, director of the new Sheffield Institute of Arts: “Once the decision had been made to regenerate this stunning building with listed features, the University saw an opportunity to bring its art, photography, jewellery making, product design and fashion together under one roof for the first time since Psalter Lane closed in 2007.

 “The original Sheffield School of Art, established in 1843, was based on Arundel Street (later bombed in the Second World War), so we’ve come full circle with our renewed presence in the city centre.”

➡ How will the space be kitted out for the benefit of students?
Sally Wade: “We’ve invested in the latest IT and re-planned our learning environments to include more integrated space where students learn in a more holistic way. The new technologies enable students to work in the same space, and therefore keep their learning community, but work on different projects with students on different levels of the course.”

Amy Revill, from principal contractors m3: “We’ve worked hard to restore and revive many of the original features. With such historical and sentimental significance, restoring the old to be used in the modern world will hopefully inspire the students into a new way of thinking.”

 ➡ What sorts of processes did you go through to decide which fixtures and fittings to use?
Amy Revill: “As the former head post office is a Grade-II listed building, close liaison with historical and Victorian societies along with English Heritage enabled sympathetic yet practical decisions to be made in terms of what fixtures and fittings would complement and enhance the building.”

➡ Who helped with the design of the interior space?
Steve Burluga of Axis Architecture: “This was developed by ourselves in close collaboration with the University’s Facilities Management/Estates team and end user SIA, following a review of other facilities around the country including The University of the Arts London, Central St Martins – part of the major regeneration initiative focused on Kings Cross. In conjunction with M3 we have also worked collaboratively with HLM Architects, who have developed the end-user brief and provided specialist space planning input along with Mascot Management as the University’s Project Managers.”

➡ Did they have a particular aesthetic vision or style in mind whilst designing it? How have they realised this? 
Steve Burluga: “The buildings include big open-plan spaces, with tall sash windows, glazed brickwork and exposed beams/metalwork, the majority of which are left exposed, in a ‘light touch’ approach to the interiors to preserve the character of the buildings. The focal point of the facility is the original post hall which becomes a flexible gallery/showspace – it has a grandeur reflected in the original coffered ceilings and marble column/window surrounds, which are all being restored, including a superb, marble mosaic tiled floor, which was uncovered when old carpet floor coverings were removed. Adjacent to this space is the original staircase, circular in shape with cantilevered stone treads and ornate balustrade.”

➡ How did you choose which fixtures and fittings to use? 
Steve Burluga: “It’s all about building on the original vision, providing creative space but keeping things simple to complement the listed building environment.”

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