The overhaul of the brutalist Park Hill housing estate in Sheffield, England, is another of the six projects nominated for the 2013 Stirling Prize (+ slideshow).
Architects Hawkins\Brown and urban designers Studio Egret West were commissioned by property developer Urban Splash to take on the renovation of the notorious social housing estate, which is one of the most famous examples of the "streets in the sky" typology that typified many post-war UK developments in the 1960s and 70s.
Influenced by projects such as Le Corbusier's Unité d'Habitation, architects at that time thought large housing blocks with communal open-air walkways would foster communities, but they instead became associated with antisocial behaviour, vandalism and crime.
In spite of its problems, the complex was Grade II* listed in 1998 for its architectural significance, as well as for its role as part of the city's identity. This prompted Urban Splash to embark on a redevelopment to create a mix of social housing and private apartments, alongside offices, shops, restaurants and bars.
The design team began by stripping the building back to its gridded concrete framework. They then added a new facade made of simple glazing and brightly coloured panels.
By reducing the width of the "streets", the architects were able to extend the size of the apartments, creating new street-facing windows and much-needed additional storage.
Giving residents a sense of ownership was an important part of the project, so patterned floor tiles and stained plywood details were added around the entrances to each home to provide a more domestic appearance. These details also vary between different clusters of homes, helping residents to orientate themselves.
Landscape architecture studio Grant Associates also worked on the project, designing gardens, courtyards and a large public square.
The first phase of 78 apartments is now complete and the first residents began moving in during January. Phase two is currently underway.
Park Hill phase one was named as one of the Stirling Prize nominees last week. Other projects to make the shortlist include an elliptical stone chapel and a museum that mimics volcanic formations.
Property developer Urban Splash has also been responsible for several other interesting projects, including a coastal staircase in a historic naval supply yard and an apartment block designed as "three fat chips stacked on top of each other". See more projects by Urban Splash »
Other recently completed housing projects include a timber-clad retirement home near Paris and an apartment block with mirrored balconies in Winnipeg. See more housing on Dezeen »
Photography is by Daniel Hopkinson, apart from where otherwise stated.
Here's a project description from Hawkins\Brown:
Working in collaboration with our client, Urban Splash, and design team members Studio Egret West and Grant Associates, we are bringing love, life and pride back to the Sheffield icon to make it a genuinely vibrant and sustainable community for the 21st century.
The first phase of 78 apartments has been completed and has been given a thorough face-lift and remodelled to 21st Century standards. The existing concrete frame has been repaired and a new façade installed and the iconic 'Streets In The Sky' have new balustrading. As well as saving an icon, figures compiled show that refurbishing the scheme has prevented 4 football stadia of material being taken to landfill and that the embodied energy in the concrete frame is equivalent to 3 weeks energy output from a power station.
At the lower levels of the building, the essential ingredients of a proper community will be combined with a new 'high street' of local shops, bars, pubs and restaurants.
A new landscape will revitalise the public realm for residents and visitors alike and reconnect Park Hill with the city.
This high-profile project hosted the RIBA Stirling Prize "after party" and has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale.
In January 2013 the first new residents and commercial tenants moved in, and with this defining moment the building started a new phase in its life.