“Cool”, “on trend” and “cutting edge” are just some of the words frequently used to describe Sheffield’s Park Hill flats, which also happens to be Europe’s largest listed building that has been inspired by Le Corbusier’s iconic Unité d’Habitation in Marseille.

Built in the late 1950’s, the 7-hectare estate containing 1,000 flats was known to have all the mod cons with residents loving the life it provided with fantastic views and real feel of safety and community. It was infamous for its streets that were wide enough to take milk floats, hence the name given – “Streets in the Sky”.

Flash forward to the 80’s and the once much-loved home to over 5,000 residents became a notorious no-go zone. Unemployment, drug use and high levels of criminal activity took its toll on the area and the building, leaving a deteriorated looking structure in much need of regeneration. However, in 1998, the building was grade II listed, which saved it from demolition.

An iconic graffiti marriage proposal ‘I love you will u marry me’ is emblazoned on the interconnecting estate’s bridge in 2001 before the regeneration work. The wording became renowned with Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner famously wearing a t-shirt featuring the legendary caption. But the graffiti, which is now overwritten in neon lights, like any good piece for art, has a contentious story and is a reminder of the varied and dynamic history of the site.

By 2007 Park Hill’s potential was spotted by Urban Splash, and in 2018, is now under Phase 3 of a redevelopment plan being led by development partner Alumno Developments.

OOBE are extremely excited to have been commissioned by Alumno Developments to be landscape architects for this phase.

Sophie Tombleson, one of the team’s talented senior landscape architects working on the project explains;

“I’m extremely privileged to be involved in this project, the history and story behind it has provided fantastic inspiration in the landscape design.

Commissioned by Alumno Developments, OOBE have embarked on designing a landscape that turns an overrun and unsafe environment into an outdoor space that will reflect the architectural functions within the building.

The lower level spaces will provide a range of areas for outdoor socialising, dining and study, as well as potential commercial break-out space adjacent to the commercial zone within the building, helping to bring the structure back to life and to help reengage the community spirit.

Sophie goes on to explain:

“The outdoor space is designed to provide a range of areas that accommodate residents and visitors, from outdoor study to lawns for informal sports.

Our design celebrates the heritage and iconic design of the original Le Corbusier-inspired building by retaining and revealing existing architectural features within the landscape, including imposing concrete retaining walls, ramps, and sunken gardens.

The planting is key to defining and shaping the space. The areas around the main entrances will be richly planted to create a sense of arrival, a central lawn is located at the heart of the scheme and the whole space is framed by low maintenance gardens to buffer views from private flats and reflect the wider local landscape.

Sophie concludes;

“To be involved in this scheme has been both exciting and emotional! The landscape that we have designed will promise to compliment such a wonderful architectural structure and provide an outdoor space that the residents will enjoy and love.”