The Sheffield Beasts (Bestiarul Arhitectural al Sheffield-ului)

During the last 5 months I have been privileged to be a visiting researcher at the Sheffield School of Architecture. I will not talk here about the Sheffield School of Architecture, its differences from the Cluj Napoca School of architecture or from ENSACF (although I might at some future moment). I propose a 4 part photo journal in the town of Sheffield. I will not elaborate a theory regarding these buildings, but I will try to explain the name of the post. It is the first word that came in my mind when I saw these structures.

I admit I didn’t know much about Sheffield when I came here apart from the School of Architecture, Sheffield steel, and Sheffield Wednesday football club. So, the first thing I did was to explore this new territory. I was strolling innocently through the city center when suddenly there it was … the beast: The Moor (business, residential, commercial center in the heart of the city). I was struck by the scale of the intervention (not particularly its height as its mass) in a city center. Accustomed (maybe too much) to the quite quaint historic city center of Cluj this seemed at first appalling. But then, there was some form of curiosity as well, and I would say even a fascination with these out of scale, massive interventions. But these Sheffield beasts are more than just big buildings. Their advanced state of decay, their image of 1950s modernism to brutalism, their inappropriateness to their surroundings in not only size but also as image makes them more than just big buildings, they are fascinating beasts from the past, fossils of not so ancient dinosaurs.

A beast is an animal or a human being which is difficult, even impossible to control. The Romanian notion also has some moral connotation, but it will not be the case here. These buildings that I am going to show in the future 4 posts have this characteristic, they couldn’t be controlled by its surroundings, they are savage interventions, but like any beast, they can be quite fascinating. It is fascinating to see a lion as it is fascinating to imagine a mythological beast as the Minotaur. Rem Koolhaas theorized the beastly architecture and called it bigness, as something that goes beyond morality and aesthetics because of their size.  I wouldn’t advise anyone in building beasts or if you like the more famous version, relying on bigness. I don’t think that the goal of architecture is to surpass through size questions of morality and aesthetics.

An inflation of beasts transforms our cities in jungles.

I will present only 4 of the Sheffield Beasts but I am open to more suggestions, as I am convinced that there are even more to be considered. I don’t refer here to industrial buildings, as their technological imperatives usually are the ones that dictated their size. I refer mostly to residential, commercial and office buildings.

The Red Beast – The Sheffield Moor

The Moor was built in the 1950s. It is a commercial, residential, office building in the Sheffield City Center. Most of it is currently unoccupied. It is currently part of a redevelopment programe alongside its surrounding area (moving Castle Market nearby).

One thought on “The Sheffield Beasts (Bestiarul Arhitectural al Sheffield-ului)

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