The City and Region
Sheffield is an exciting place to be a student of Landscape. Despite being England´s fourth largest city, it is also its `greenest´ in terms of public open space and tree cover. The many urban parks and extensive green infrastructure provide the inspiration for much of our project work, as well as being places for more informal experience and enjoyment of the landscape.
The city´s industrial heritage is still widely evident, and this leads to a diverse urban landscape. In places, the Victorian era has bequeathed outstanding civic buildings and their associated open spaces. Elsewhere, the decline of the steel and coal industries has left a legacy of areas undergoing redevelopment. Urban regeneration is an important theme of our courses, and our projects draw upon the challenges faced by areas of industrial change in and around the city.
Many parts of the city were also greatly altered by the public housing programmes of the mid-20th century. One of the most remarkable examples is the Park Hill Flats close to the city centre, which is now the largest listed building in Europe. Our project work also acknowledges the importance of landscape architecture in shaping the future of these areas.
At present, the centre of Sheffield is being transformed by major investment in the public realm, and European funding has substantially contributed to the revitalisation of civic spaces. A continuous web of streetscapes and public art now links the railway station to City Hall, and draws together key sites such as the Winter Gardens, Peace Gardens and Barker´s Pool.
To the east of the city, the rapid decline of heavy industry left extensive areas of derelict and underused land in its wake. Landscape architects have been central to the recovery of these areas. The Dearne Valley is now substantially reclaimed and supports new housing and businesses, as well as an extensive nature reserve, whilst the Rother Valley country park is a major example of recreational after-use of opencast coal extraction. The South Yorkshire Forest has, since 1991, been engaged on an ambitious programme of land reclamation and linking newly planted sites with existing woodlands, further reinforcing the extensive `green structure´ of the city and its region.
To the west of the city lies the Peak District, Britain´s first National Park. Sheffield is our only city with national park land lying in its boundary, and in places the Park is only six miles from the city centre. The Peak is a major reason why many students choose Sheffield, and why the city has such a high rate of students staying on after graduation. It is thus both an important teaching asset and an exceptional local resource.
In sum, Sheffield and its surroundings provide an endless source of inspiration to the Landscape student. Even when you are not formally learning, you are still absorbing ideas and thinking about issues and solutions.