Wellington Street Live Project

Year | 2013
Location | Wellington Street, Sheffield, UK
Client | Clare Murdoch / Miranda Plowden (South Yorkshire Housing Society)

If you were to walk along Wellington Street in Sheffield, you would miss the vibrancy and innovation of a charitable organisation committed to providing quality living and social support. As the staff of South Yorkshire Housing Society will tell you, this is also the case throughout the interior of the office too.

This Live Project investigates the refurbishment of the interior layout and exterior façade towards realising the potential of SYHA headquarters. In a two tiered yet coordinated approach, between interior and exterior, the group’s ambition is to physically express the organisation’s purpose and values throughout the building.

Our design work was developed through active correspondence with the client, extensive staff consultation and a breadth of research including visits to successful office spaces. We were pleasantly surprised by the forthright nature of staff in identifying positives and negatives of their workplace, through our comment boxes and participatory events, and in the feedback to our ideas through drop-in sessions.

Internally, the office could be described as a rabbit warren of dark corridors and small closed office spaces, with few staff facilities. Additional to promoting staff wellbeing and improving working conditions, interior proposals look to the future of SYHA. As the nature of housing societies’ work is changing, so too is how this work is being done. Based on research into future ways of working, scenarios are illustrated whereby new office space provides for different types of workers.

In terms of the fabric of the building, the unkempt 1960s curtain walling does not accurately present the image of SYHA, and is also highly thermally inefficient offering little control of the internal environment. Façade proposals aim to provide feasible solutions in tackling issues of environmental comfort, maintenance costs and projecting the ethos of the organisation. Low cost options suitable for the not-for-profit organisation are developed in order to allow the £600k budget to cover a cohesive refurbishment throughout.

Our work culminated in a well presented document that outlined our recommendations and our development process, including an appendix of all findings from staff. Although traditional in style, the format was most useful as a handover to the client and was infused with fun, accessible and engaging graphics.

We thank SYHA for facilitating our learning through collaboration, towards an interesting and challenging project, providing insight into the ‘liveness’ of architecture.

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