Year | 2022
Location | Sheffield, UK
Clients | Sarah Sharp & Chris Ellis

Our live project team worked closely with The Montgomery and its building users, asking what it means for a place and organisation to be truly accessible. We explored issues of accessibility, outreach and visibility at 3 different scales: city, street and interior.

The Montgomery is a theatre & arts centre based in the heart of Sheffield and has been a pillar of the Sheffield community since 1886, championing the rights of children to explore creativity. The building is a home to a number of local creative organisations and accommodates a variety of art-focused activities for children and young people, alongside being a popular performance venue. However, with the lack of disabled access, little street presence and inefficient internal layout, the building is not currently being used to its full potential. The theatre is looking to secure funding during the summer of 2023, with the principal objective of improving accessibility to the theatre.

Our process involved active research through continuous engagement with the site and the building users, experiencing and observing the building in action at different times throughout the day as well as a variety of direct and indirect engagement with the building users and wider community.

The live project team explored a number of imaginative and age-suitable craft-based activities to engage the youngest of the building users in shaping the future vision of the Montgomery. These activities revealed the power of puppetry and storytelling as a tool for expression which led us to design and build a large scale puppet theatre display tool: Monty’s Playhouse.

In anticipation for the development planned for summer of 2023, we explored a number of ‘light touch’ immediate interventions which include: ideas for a meanwhile use of the ground floor shop, updated wayfinding signage and exhibition boards illustrating imaginative ‘what if’ scenarios for the future.

As a part of the entrance to the building, we explored how the implementation of a lift would affect the internal layout and what other potential interventions would create a more inviting, accessible and exciting space. We detailed our speculative proposals in a series of booklets which The Montgomery will be able to use for future funding applications.

Instagram: @themontgomery.liveproject


Mentor: Tim Ireland
Client: Sarah Sharp & Chris Ellis
Location: Sheffield, UK
Students: Sasina Chanaphai, Gabriela Di Castro Calderon, Susannah Fairbank Angus, Dimitar Zhelev, Abinaya Ganapathy Subramaniam, Haoxuan Feng, Artia Lovirtha Chandradewi Hutabarat, Harry Lord, Gloria Kostrzewa-Seyoum, Shunshun Zhang, Chinmay Rajendra Nisal, Qixuan Wu.