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Colour and Corbusier at Béton House, Park Hill

Developers Alumno have teamed up with Ben Kelly Design and Brinkworth to create vibrant student living on the Grade II listed Park Hill development.

10/12/2020 2 min read

Renamed Béton House (in respect of Béton brut, the French term for ‘raw concrete’ used in Modernism) the scheme is the latest phase in the continuing redevelopment of the Grade II* listed Park Hill estate in Sheffield. The project aims to rekindle the original social intentions of the post-war development, give a new lease of life to an abandoned part of the development and reinvigorate the student-housing sector for the 21st century.

Alumno brought in Ben Kelly of BK Design and Brinkworth to transform 650 sq m of communal area, including a gym, cinema, private dining room, and study room. Tatham Studio worked on the accommodation on the floors above and Graphic Thought Facility’s Andrew Stevens to develop the signage.

A primary ‘Polychromie’ colour palette used by Le Corbusier influenced the design – burnt orange, bottle green, scarlet, and mustard – mirrored in a mosaic on the walls of the former Parkway Tavern pub.

These colours were used to offer a historical context but also to help divide the open-plan spaces into zones (reception, lounges, seating booths, and study areas), bringing in Ben Kelly’s trademark palette ‘while allowing the original concrete to sing.’

Graphic Thought Facility was responsible for the wayfinding of the building, reflecting its past identified by new signs cast in ribbed and polished aggregate concretes.

‘To respect the integrity of the building, our approach was to tread very lightly to retain the building’s original features,’ says Kevin Brennan, Partner, Brinkworth. ‘Despite the difficult acoustics and thermal conditions in the common areas, we have developed a concept that pays tribute to the original vision to become a modern, functional environment.’

‘I’ve known Park Hill estate since visits to Sheffield in the early 1990s and have sadly watched it deteriorate over time, so it was a real honour for me to be so involved with the resuscitation of this beautiful brute,’ he adds. ‘Along with a stellar cast of architects, designers and, of course, working with David Campbell and his passion for modernism.’

‘We first asked ourselves how we yield the original aspirations of Park Hill? What is a balanced community these days and who is in it?’ says David Campbell, managing director of Alumno, on the decision to transform part of the iconic Park Hill estate in Sheffield from flats into student housing.

Having worked on large social projects such as the redevelopment of Southwark Town Hall in London, David quickly spotted its civic potential and struck upon the need for bespoke student housing in the city and its ability to provide a first, the student house within a managed block, which hasn’t been done before.

‘We’ve always believed that student housing can be a catalyst for change,’ he continues. ‘I liked the idea that someone could enter into Park Hill as a student, graduate from university, get a job in Sheffield and then maybe move up into homeownership in Park Hill.’

Photography: Louise Melchior

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