Dual students develop proposals to revitalise Gleadless Valley

As one of the best examples of a post-war social housing estate, Sheffield’s Gleadless Valley has some incredible buildings set in a valley landscape. Dual architecture and landscape students have taken part in a two-day design challenge to propose ideas for the future of the area.

Built in the late 1950s as a model for social housing, residents of Gleadless Valley remember busloads of visitors who would travel to the area to view the unique design. Proud locals referred to the Valley as ‘Little Switzerland’, due to its steep, hilly terrain. Gleadless Valley is a remarkable, overwhelmingly green, environment and the landscape defines the character and the way it works. More recently, the reputation of the area has deteriorated, and fewer people want to be housed here than elsewhere in Sheffield.

Students on the dual architecture and landscape courses have come together to work with Sheffield alumni, Helen Berg and Joren Heise, to develop ideas for the future development of the main centre of Gleadless Valley.

Helen and Joren now work for the design and research consultancy, Urbed, and are currently working with Sheffield City Council to develop a regeneration masterplan for Gleadless Valley. Dual students were given the exciting opportunity to be involved with this project and develop ideas that will potentially feed into the masterplan proposals that Urbed is developing.

The students spent the first day visiting and exploring the area they would be focussing on. During day two, Helen and Joren facilitated an intense day of design, discussion and making.

The resulting designs ranged from projects that enhanced the existing ancient woodland to make a ‘forest’ neighbourhood, to a more defined neighbourhood ‘heart’ and making spaces that help the community to develop and share skills. The remarkable architecture and landscape of the area surprised and delighted the students in equal measure and it became clear that Gleadless Valley should be somewhere that people are proud to live.

The Archiscape Design Charrette takes place annually and gives dual students the opportunity to work with those from other year groups of the BA Architecture and Landscape and MArch Architecture and Landscape Architecture courses. Alumni of the courses are invited to take part to lead the sessions and share their experience with the students.