An electricity substation, Co-op store and council housing are among Sheffield’s most treasured buildings taking centre stage in a special exhibition.
The Brutal and Beautiful exhibition by English Heritage is a celebration of modern architecture, showcasing the very best of England’s post-war listed buildings.
The photography display started out as a series of design events in London, but has now arrived in Sheffield.
The exhibition is being held in one of the city’s most iconic, and controversial, buildings – Park Hill.
Elain Harwood, English Heritage’s specialist on post-war architecture and curator of the exhibition, said: “There was a strong interest to bring the exhibition to Sheffield as the city has more listed modern architecture than any other in the north of England.
“The exhibition is a real celebration of the post-war era when there was such an interest in the new and modern and a belief that Sheffield was going to change for the better with clean air, new buildings and open space.”
Using stunning photography and video interviews with architects and clients of post-war listed buildings, Brutal and Beautiful looks at people’s love-hate relationship with England’s recent architectural past and asks ‘what’s worth saving?’.
In Sheffield the answer to that question includes The Moore Street electricity substation – an example of Brutalist architecture designed by Jefferson Sheard in 1968. The rugged concrete building was granted Grade II listed status by English Heritage in September 2013, with the building being described as a ‘massive and uncompromising bunker’.
The city’s Park Hill council housing project is also deemed worthy of preservation. Built between 1957 and 1961, the structure, which dominates part of the Sheffield skyline, was bestowed a Grade II listing in 1998 – making it the largest listed building in Europe.
It is still undergoing a radical renovation by Urban Splash to transform its flats into upmarket apartments, business units and social housing.
Sheffield University’s elegant Arts Tower unsurprisingly makes the cut, while the Castle House Co-op raised a few eyebrows when it gained listed status in 1998, amid fears it would be demolished.
Four modern Sheffield churches, including St Mark’s in Broomhill and St Paul’s on Wordsworth Avenue, are also celebrated in the exhibition
Elain said: “To be listed a building must be of special architectural or historical interest. Those under threat of major alterations or demolition can also be considered.
“People view buildings very differently – some may question why we would list a Co-op – but it’s the last building of its kind in the country and features a beautiful cantilevered spiral staircase worthy of preserving.”
Held as part of Sheffield Design Week and Love Architecture Week, Brutal and Beautiful is open between noon and 6pm until Sunday.
n For more information, visit www.sheffielddesignweek.co.uk/event/beauty-brutal