Year | 2011
Location | Portland Works, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK
Client | Portland Works Little Sheffield Limited / Julia Udall

The Live Project is collaborated with the “Save Portland Works” campaign and tenants of Portland Works.  Portland Works is an important part of Sheffield’s history: the Works were the first place in the world to produce stainless steel cutlery and manufacturing continues there today.  Currently home to a wide variety of craft industries, ranging from tool and knife makers to carpenters, as well as artists and musicians, it is a hub of creative activity.  The campaign is in the process of raising the funds to buy the works as a Community Benefit Society, aiming to preserve the building, develop the skills and businesses that exist within it.  The project fitted into the framework of strategies the client was exploring for an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable future for Portland Works.   The Live Project investigated long and short-term strategies to imagine a future for the building by developing a tool to explore how the building could be managed and through engaging with the local community.

We conducted research into the existing functionality of the space, building on the existing conditions survey by recording additional information on use and requirements of each unit, learning about the skills of some of the tenants, and through using ethnographic techniques to collect information about the tenants’ needs and priorities.

As part of a wider strategy focussing on education the students ran a workshop with a group of local young people, running a variety of exercises initially to explore and understand the building, and then imagining how the courtyard could be used or adapted in the future.  These exercises were instigated by the group to demonstrate how the wider community could use and learn from the building.

To raise the profile of Portland Works within Sheffield the Live Project group used creative marketing strategies, for example using a sandwich board as part of a surveying exercise to see how many people had heard of Portland Works and what they thought the building was used for.  The group also participated in an Open Day at Portland Works using a model they had constructed as a participative tool for proposing visions of how the building might be used and refurbished in the future.

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