Social Sciences building Sheffield

Project overview

Interior of Social Sciences buildingBuilding of a world-class Social Sciences facility to enhance the student experience and encourage interdisciplinary research will start in May 2019.

Designed by HLM architects, this home for the Faculty of Social Sciences will improve learning for students through its new collaborative teaching and social spaces and offer a wide range of disciplines under the same roof for the first time. It will also include a research hub, bringing together cross-cutting research centres to address key global challenges.

Green space, which will be open to the public as well as students and staff, will be part of the development, providing an improved local environment.

The building has been designed with sustainability at its core. Ground source heat pumps will be installed to maximise the opportunity created by thermal warmth, and provide cooling in the summer. 

To sign up for email updates on the project, visit:

More information

Project details

Project Manager: Richard Parr, Department of Estates and Facilities Management

Contact: [email] [tel] 0114 222 9127

Construction Manager: Nick Howdle, Bam Construction

Contact: [email] [tel] 07711 390 854

Client: Faculty of Social Sciences

Location: Junction of Whitham Road (A57) and Northumberland Road

Timescale: May 2019-2021

Latest news

December 2019: The ground floor slab is now fully cast which gives us a clear footprint of the building. Concrete cores continue to be installed and the drum is now fully concreted.

November 2019: You can see real progress on site now as the drum steelwork is now complete. The concrete frame is progressing with first sections of first floor now cast.
We've had some exceptionally bad weather over the last few months, with the wettest July and September for 10 years. That's led to some loss of working time, but the site team are working hard to make sure it doesn't slow the programme down.

October 2019: We have now completed drilling the fourteen 225 metre deep boreholes for the ground source heat pump and will now start to add the pipe equipment. The project's foundations are complete and we continue to install the ground floor slab.

w/c 5/7/2019: Works are progressing well with piling now complete and the old villa has been demolished. As the site was a reservoir before it became sports pitch, BAM are busy pumping water from underground and will continue this whilst they are constructing works in the ground. The team have started to crop the piles to the correct level and construct the pile caps.
The drilling rig for the deep bore hole heat exchanges is now on site and starting soon. The rig will drill 14 x 200m deep bore holes into the land for the Geothermal ground source heat pumps. This technology will make the building the University's most sustainable in terms of heating and cooling.

w/c 10/6/2019: Date not fixed yet but we anticipate the boring machine work to commence 10 June for up to 20 weeks. The noise level will be comparable to the enabling works currently taking place.

w/c 3/6/2019: We will take delivery of 2 piling rigs, which are large drilling machines used to construct the concrete pile foundations for the building. These rigs will start drilling at the west side of the building and work their way towards Whitham Road.

w/c 20/5/2019: Installing the piling platform that forms the footprint of the building.

w/c 13/5/2019: Excavation and drilling chambers work to commence to prepare the ground.

w/c 15/5/2019: Sheffield Tree Care, working on behalf of the University, will be removing a number of trees behind the villa on Northumberland Road. New trees will be replanted on at least a two to one basis once the building work is complete.

w/c 21/5/2019: We are hosting a residents' drop in on Tuesday 21 May, 6-7.30pm, James Smith House (11 - 15 Marlborough Road) to show architect's visuals and the proposed planting scheme along the boundary area between the building and Marlborough Road.



Note: The facade design shown on this video has been updated and will look different on the final building.

View from Weston Park Hospital:

exterior shot of Social Sciences building

View of corner of Northumberland and Whitham Roads:

exterior shot of Social Sciences building

Aerial views: 

Aerial shot of Social Sciences building

Aerial shot of Social Sciences building

Atrium area:

interior shot of Social Sciences building

Credit: HLM Architects

Where will the building be?

The building will be at the junction of Northumberland and Whitham Roads, on the site of an existing football pitch.

How big will the building be?

The new building will be four storeys high at the front and three storeys high at the back, with a total area of 16,500 square meters.

Which departments will be in the new building?

Economics, Sociological Studies, Politics, the Sheffield Methods Institute, White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership, the interdisciplinary research centres and the Faculty of Social Sciences office.

Will there be any teaching space in the new building?

The new building will house a variety of teaching spaces in terms of their style and capacity, with large collaborative lecture theatres of different sizes, and a variety of smaller seminar rooms. Also included will be two computer rooms, and the suite of Journalism specialist teaching spaces.

Is there any provision for study spaces in the new building?

The building will provide around 500 study spaces of varying styles with two silent study spaces. Students will also be encouraged and be able to use teaching spaces as study space when the spaces are not being used for teaching.

What will happen to the other sports pitch on this site, and will there be a replacement pitch for that which is being lost?

The new Social Sciences building is linked to improvements at the University’s Norton sports centre. Two new high quality pitches – a 3G hockey pitch and a 3G rugby/football pitch – are now open along with changing and shower facilities. The existing hockey pitch at Whitham Road will become a 3G football pitch and the cricket nets will be improved and brought back into use. Overall, sports provision will be both increased and significantly improved.

Click here for information on the Norton Sports Centre development.

Will the new building be environmentally friendly?

The building has been designed with sustainability at its heart and is aspiring to get a BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) outstanding rating.

Working with a sustainability consultant as part of the design team has allowed us to model in detail the anticipated performance of the building. Current models show a significant reduction on current Building Regulations requirements for carbon emissions and energy demand. This has been achieved through passive features, such as a high performance thermal envelope and use of the atrium space for heating and cooling, and also through the specification and integration of efficient mechanical and electrical systems.

In addition to the Social Sciences building, the University are exploring options for a wider energy network to serve this area. Options being considered will provide low carbon technologies from which the University will be able to draw its heat and power.

How will the new development contribute positively to biodiversity in the area?

The Social Science scheme’s landscape design aims to positively contribute to the biodiversity in the area. Introduction of a range of new habitats and improving the quality of existing soft landscape are two of the many ways in which the landscape proposals aim to build on and improve local biodiversity and distinctness of the area. Removal of dominant, out of character and poor biodiversity tree species, such as the large Leylandii hedge on Whitham Road, is a fundamental part of the design. This will make room for an enhanced public spaces and improved planting and tree planting opportunities.

What contribution will the development make to greening the environment?

The layout of the scheme has been designed to maximise pedestrian use and activity. ‘Pocket parks’ both to the rear and front of the development connect the development to its surroundings and create active facades. The main public space off Whitham Road forms an urban plaza for socialising, seating and enhanced ornamental planting whilst forming an attractive approach into the development. These ‘pocket parks’ will become an inviting place to stay and relax whilst providing a sense of character. The selection of materials will be in line with the University's Campus Masterplan, creating a cohesive scheme.

Will there be cycle parking at the new building?

To promote sustainable modes of transport, the site will have a cycle hub and cycle parking for approximately 200 cycles. As part of the development, there will be internal, secure storage and changing facilities for staff and students.

Surely the new building will result in many more pedestrians and traffic coming into the area?

The site’s location will see a significant shift in student numbers to this area of the campus. This will actually reduce foot traffic down Whitham Road/Western Bank and create safer walking/cycling routes in to the city centre.

Will there be many new car parking spaces as part of the development – and will this too result in increased traffic around the area?

In line with the University’s sustainable transport policy, the emphasis will be on encouraging people to walk or cycle, or take public transport when visiting the new Social Sciences building. A very small number of visitor parking spaces have been included in the design, along with disabled parking bays and charging points for electric cars. All other car drivers will be encouraged to use the multi-storey car park at Durham Road.

What is happening to the bus stop on Whitham Road

The bus stop is being permanently moved slightly further up Whitham Road towards Broomhill. This is to ensure better access to the site.

Will the building be open to the public?

Much of the building will be open to the public, including the ground floor café. There will also be a pocket park at the front of the building which will create welcome green space for all. The new park will help improve air quality on a busy road and provide a new social space to serve both the local and University community as well as providing a pleasant outlook and amenity space for users of the adjacent Weston Park Hospital.

How will this new modern building fit within the character of the local area?

The building continues Sheffield’s development pattern of large buildings punctuating the tree and skyline. Northumberland Road has a strong and attractive character, predominated by the continuous stone walls to the back of pavement and the backdrop of trees and vegetation. The new development retains the stone wall to Northumberland Road as much as possible, creating openings for access at key points. The stone wall, railings and plaque to Whitham Road will also be retained, again with small openings made to create safe entrances to the site for pedestrians. The ground floor level of the building is higher than Northumberland Road, reflecting the historic height of the Godfrey Dam, which is also seen as a significant characteristic of the area.

One of the walls at the Whitham Road entrance to the site has been removed - I thought these walls and railings were staying as part of the new building?

Yes, they will be retained within the new development. We have had to remove one of the walls temporarily to allow access for large machinery, but this will be re-instated once the work is done.

Contact us

Project enquiries: Project Manager Richard Parr, / 0114 222 9127

General enquiries: The EFM Help Desk will put you in touch with the right person, / 0114 222 9000

If you're a member of staff or a student in the Faculty of Social Sciences, Faye Revill, Faculty Estates Development Manager, is a useful point of contact:

Project progress

Click on a photo to enlarge and scroll through the gallery.