Established in 1897, Sheffield University was one of the original nine civic universities founded in the major industrial cities of England during the 19th century and today, is in the top 100 universities in the world. Due to its global reputation for teaching and research, it is a popular educational destination for international students, with almost 25% of its student population coming from over 150 different countries.
In recent years, this demand has driven the need for a more multicultural and cohesive campus, featuring a well-conceived and enjoyable public space. The Concourse will connect the new student union to the heart of the university campus on Western Bank, which includes some of the most historic and recognisable buildings within the campus. The architects, HLM, were tasked with using a contemporary materials pallet that offered a nod to the past, but also connected to the future.
In this area of Sheffield, Portuguese granite is used heavily in many streetscapes in the form of kerbs and detailing. Therefore, HLM wanted to incorporate Portuguese yellow granite as an accent feature and required a concrete product that had high sustainability values to enhance the green credentials of the scheme in accordance with Sheffield City Council’s ‘Grey to Green’ Strategy.
The challenge was to create a modern and sustainable design that enhanced the human experience using materials that complement the historic aesthetics of the site. Therefore, Charcon’s Andover Textured product was chosen due to high aesthetic qualities and its recycled content, of which both the recycled and virgin materials are UK sourced materials. This was combined with the bands of Portuguese yellow granite setts to connect the new space to existing local vernacular of granite kerbs and concrete paving.
To ensure the final product met client expectations, Charcon worked in coordination with the architects and the contractor, providing advice on installation and detailing. Testament to the success of this bespoke solution, this materials pallet will form the basis of a newly adopted strategy for all future university developments within the heart of the main campus and its surrounding buildings.
James Gray, Specification Manager within Aggregate Industries’ Concrete Products Division, comments: “Through our early and in-depth involvement in the design phase, we were able to help HLM deliver a specification for a well-conceived and cohesive open space. The success of this project highlighted Charcon to be a great project partner from design to completion. The Charcon team is now working as the hard landscaping supplier for the new social sciences building which is due for completion in 2020.”