The Sheffield Beasts – The Arts Tower
The ivory tower. The architect’s perfect ivory tower if there ever was one physically built. This is the Arts Tower where the Sheffield School of Architecture occupies the last floors. It is the second tallest tower in Sheffield and from its height the architects watch down upon their domain, looking at where to build yet another spectacular object. “We look down at the city below and, at this distance, command it as an abstraction. The voices of people are lost; we just observe their functions. Buildings are reduced to form, roads to flows of traffic. Noises are measured, not listened to. Shapes are classified by type, not sensuously enjoyed. (…) And from below, the city looks back and sees us as remote figures of authority.” (Jeremy Till, Architecture Depends, pag.9) In fact, it’s not quite the case, Sheffield School of Architecture is one of the most socially conscious schools of architecture that I know about. Still, their building is a perfect example of isolation of the profession.
There is a lot that can be said about the relation between the image of a tower and architecture as a profession. But it is not the place to talk about this … not yet. This is truly a magnificent beast, the most elegant Sheffield beast. It was completed in 1966 and went recently through a thorough rehabilitation. More info here
I complete this photo tour of the Sheffield Beasts with the Arts Tower for two reasons: it was the building in which I spent about 8 or 9 hours every day during the period I stayed in Sheffield (yes, sometimes including Saturdays and Sundays) and it provides me with the opportunity to show the atmosphere of some remote parts of the city. Beautiful spaces, leftover spaces, derelict spaces, common spaces, houses, warehouses, streets and alleys. Everything a city is made of, over which the Arts Tower (and architecture) reigns.