Great Pier designs for Castlegate

Collaborative projects promote creative regeneration in Castlegate

  • School of Architecture part of funding bid awarded £75k from AHRA 'Immersive Experiences' programme
  • Research aims to demonstrate on site augmented reality in the Castlegate area of Sheffield to engage the community in regeneration
  • Students have worked on projects resulting in a planning application for ‘The Castlegate Pier’

Staff and students in the School of Architecture are collaborating on a range of projects with an aim to inspire creative regeneration in the Castlegate area of Sheffield City Centre.

Castlegate surrounds the old Sheffield Castle site which was one of the largest castles in England before its demolition after the Civil War. The Castlegate area remains a main gateway into the city centre, however, it has been in decline for many years as businesses close down and move location. Archaeologists are soon to begin excavations of the castle, marking the first stage of regeneration in the area.

Carolyn Butterworth and Ralph Mackinder, are working with University of Sheffield researchers and industry partners on a new project which has recently been awarded funding from the AHRA Immersive Experiences programme. The Experience Castlegate project will use on-site Augmented Reality to allow the community to experience a 3D model of Sheffield Castle and a 3D version of last year’s Revealing the Castle Live Project in which architecture masters students designed a bottom-up development strategy for the area. Local people will be able to digitally experience the student designs which layered up over time archaeological excavations, events, arts installations, meanwhile use, creative start-ups and longer-term permanent development.

The collaborative project brings together researchers in the departments of Architecture, Archaeology and Computer Science alongside industry and community partners, Human Studio and Friends of Sheffield Castle. Castlegate will be used as a testbed to demonstrate how immersive digital technologies can harness cultural heritage and community engagement in the field of urban regeneration. The on-site digital experience aims to promote conversations with people about the future of the site by engaging them in its history, revealing its current potential and raising aspirations for a locally relevant and vibrant future.

This year MArch and MA in Architectural Design students, through the School's project office Live Works, continued the work of the Revealing the Castle Live Project by developing designs for a Castlegate Pier in collaboration with The Castlegate Partnership. The Pier is a temporary construction that will enable members of the public to view the Castle remains as archaeological investigations are carried out below them. Information about the site's history and potential future visions for the site will be displayed on the Pier. As well as offering views of the remains of Sheffield Castle as they are revealed, the Pier will help to animate the area, building on the current 'meanwhile' creative use of nearby empty shops and providing a catalyst for further temporary development. A group of students pitched the design to Sheffield City Council’s Castlegate Group were given support to go-ahead with the planning application with the intention of raising funding for the construction of the Pier through sponsorship and crowdfunding.

The overall aim is to develop a prototype of the Augmented Reality experience, through the Experience Castlegate research project, which can be used on site in the summer of 2018, while standing on the Castlegate Pier!

John Moreland, Professor of Archaeology and member of the Castlegate Partnership said “It has been a real pleasure to work with the architecture students on the Castlegate Pier project. Working across a range of subjects (archaeology, history, architecture, planning), and always mindful of our debt and commitment to the communities in which we work, they have demonstrated in real life the value, indeed the necessity, of interdisciplinary collaboration. I am delighted to learn that a planning application for the Pier has now been submitted, and I look forward to working with them to make it a reality."

Martin Gorman, Chair of Friends of Sheffield Castle said "The Friends are very grateful for the exciting projects the University is undertaking on the Castle and the Castlegate area. The Great Pier idea and the plans to re-create what the Castle might have looked like through augmented reality, will be perfectly timed to coincide with the start of excavations in the summer. This will hopefully then give the public the chance to come down to the Castle site and see how these exciting projects will come to life."

The School has been working in Castlegate for the past 3 years on a vision for phased regeneration of the site that places the revealing of the Castle remains at the heart of the development. Staff and students have been working on this with Sheffield City Council, Yorkshire Artspace, Friends of Sheffield Castle, Friends of the Old Town Hall, local enterprises and businesses, colleagues from Departments of Archaeology and Landscape, and the University’s City and Cultural Engagement team.