University of Sheffield heads to Love Square

Work is underway to develop an innovative ‘pop-up’ urban eco park in Sheffield

Professor Nigel Dunnett, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Landscape, has coordinated the design of ‘Love Square’ – a reconfigurable garden based on the corner of West Bar and Bridge Street in Sheffield.

Love Square will combine nature and wildlife with a social space for residents and workers in the area to enjoy all year round.

The unique design will feature wildflower meadows, lawns and a mini wetland lined with bird-friendly trees, as well as a number of seating areas. A green community café made from shipping containers is also planned for the site later in the year.

The park’s clever design means that most of the planting – including the trees – are in moveable containers to enable it to be reconfigured in the long-term as the West Bar area develops and expands in the future.

Plans to develop the patch of land were first mooted back in 2014, when the project was shortlisted for lottery funding from the Grow Wild organisation. Love Square narrowly lost out to a joint project from Manchester and Liverpool, but the University of Sheffield teamed up with developers Urbo Regeneration and Sheffield City Council to make the plans a reality.

Professor Nigel Dunnett, who previously created the world-famous wildflower landscapes at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park together with colleague, Professor James Hitchmough, said: “There was such momentum and interest that we decided we would forge ahead with our plans. I’m delighted we’ve been able to make this happen and in some ways it makes it more satisfying that we have done it ourselves.

Love Square has been funded by the University’s City Office, Alumni and Grow Wild. The project complements Sheffield City Council’s Grey to Green project, a scheme to transform Sheffield’s Riverside Business District, which the University of Sheffield’s Department of Landscape has also been involved in. It will be a focal point on the Grey to Green route, with thousands of people passing by each day.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: ‘The pop-up park designed by Professor Dunnett is a further example of the University demonstrating our international research and engagement, for the benefit of the city and the city region.’

The successful collaboration between the University, the developers and Sheffield City Council will bring Love Square to life and transform the area from something negative to something positive.