Built ProjectCommunityRefurbishment

One Great Workshop

Year | 2014
Location | Portland Works, Sheffield
Client | Colin Harvard, Julia Udall

Portland Works is a Grade II* listed former cutlery works situated in the heart of Sheffield. In 2013, the building was bought by over 500 community shareholders, saving it from a future deflecting from its industrial past. It currently relies on volunteer efforts for the renovations to allow it to continue providing affordable workspaces for small manufacturing businesses, independent artists, and craftsmen. It has been the focus of two live projects within the school in 2009 and 2013, and is also linked with the on-going project Stories of Change.

One Great Workshop echoes the name given to Sheffield in the 19th century due to the network of factories in the city, alongside the tradition of specialist craftsmen referred to as ‘Little Mesters’. The project looks at the history of energy and making in Sheffield with specific reference to the site. Working closely with the clients, tenants and shareholders at Portland Works, One Great Workshop has explored potential energy strategies for the building, focusing on preserving the culture of making for the future.

The research included recording local, regional and national stakeholders for Portland Works; charting past and current energy use on site and in the wider context of Sheffield and the UK; exploring the history of the building and the industry; visiting other works within the city; and looking at waste materials on site and in Sheffield.

In addition to this we had regular meetings and discussions with the clients and spoke to various ‘Little Mesters’ both on and off site. We were also present for volunteer days where we met the volunteers and shareholders; engaging them in conversation to understand their role in the future of Portland Works and to help refine our brief.

One Great Workshop then used the gathered stories and information to work alongside the wishes of the client to create manageable solutions to energy issues across the site. We surveyed various spaces and gathered materials for re-use to help realise practical outputs.

After six weeks we had produced two prototypes of temporary secondary glazing for use on site; a see-saw sawdust briquette press; two options for ‘pod’ designs for the artists space; and accompanying construction manuals for all. These physical outputs will help make and conserve energy at a local scale. Our presentation illustrated how all outputs could be used and applied and acts as a resource for the future. Alongside this a record of our outputs will be accessible on the Portland Works site, which will link to our blog, further work and resources.