Controversial building draws critical acclaim

Park Hill, Sheffield.
Park Hill, Sheffield.

It continues to divide public opinion, but the transformation of Park Hill flats has friends in high places, it is being revealed today.

Phase one of the renovation of the tower blocks that loom above the city centre have been given a national award by the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Park Hill is among 52 buildings in the UK and Europe to be highlighted for architectural excellence - and the list also includes new enterprise workshops in Parson Cross.

The Government gave Europe’s biggest listed building the protection of grade II* listed status 15 years ago, despite calls from some quarters for the site to be demolished.

Fifty of the 78 flats in the first stage of a proposed £160m refurbishment have been sold so far, although no date is being given for when the next phase will begin.

For the moment, though, developers Urban Splash and architects Hawkins/Brown & Studio Egret West can reflect on the national acclaim, and the possibility of Park Hill going on the shortlist for the RIBA Stirling Prize, for the best building of the year. Also in the running will be Soar Works Enterprise Centre in Knutton Road, Parson Cross, which was designed by London-based Architect 00:/.

As well as the national recognition, the complex was RIBA Yorkshire’s Building of the Year and it won the 2013 Sustainability Award.

Park Hill Phase 1 won the RIBA Yorkshire Conservation Award, and a regional award also went to 192 Shoreham Street, a conversion and extension of a Victorian industrial building into a restaurant/bar below offices by London-based Project Orange Architects.

A RIBA spokesperson said Park Hill and Soar Works were among projects “that represent architectural excellence on a national level, projects that go beyond the brief and exceed the client’s expectations.

“Investing in good design for our towns and communities is vital.

“Even in hard times we must continue to create vibrant and inspiring buildings and places for future generations to use and enjoy.”