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Stories in the Sky

Posted on 14 February 2020

Dawn Hadley and Catriona Cooper receive UKRI Enhancing Place-Based Partnerships grant for further work on Sheffield's Park Hill Flats

Hand holding an ipad demonstrating Park Hill flats app

Thanks to a UKRI Enhancing Place-Based Partnerships grant, researchers in the Department of Archaeology are collaborating with the community of Park Hill Flats in Sheffield to develop a digital app to support tours of this iconic city-century landmark. Completed in 1961, Park Hill was originally intended to provide a home where neighbours could relax on the famous Streets in the Sky, while its bustling shopping centre providing the essentials, and pubs, cafes and clubs fuelled relationships within the estate and out into the city. By the 1980s, however, the estate had borne the brunt of unemployment and post-industrial decline in the city. Now the estate is in the process of being regenerated to provide new homes for both long-term residents and newcomers. According to Amy Littlewood, from the Park Hill Residents’ Association:

Park Hill and its rise, fall and ‘re-birth’ can be used to tell the story of societal and political change in Sheffield over the last seventy years. It has become a symbolic building, and therefore a huge part of Sheffield’s history and skyline.

Led by Professor Dawn Hadley and Dr Catriona Cooper (Senior Fellow at Royal Holloway) , this project is working with the Park Hill Residents’ Association, who provide tours for visitors, including school children, University students, and groups interested in architecture and urban regeneration. The digital app will support the tour guides in their discussions of the ever-changing history of the estate, its architecture, and its developing relationships with Sheffield. The app will allow visitors to see into the past of Park Hill, through archival material, to help to understand the transition that Park Hill has made since the 1960s. The development of the app is being undertaken by Josie Wallace (Project Officer), a graduate of the Department’s MSc in Digital Heritage

Related to this project, is the MRes of Joe Empsall, a graduate of the Department’s MA in Conservation Studies, funded by XRStories which is supporting R&D to explore the potential of immersive and interactive technologies for digital storytelling. Joe is investigating the stories of the Park Hill community, and also working with HumanVR, a Park Hill-based creative agency, directed by Nick Bax, to produce a digital model of one of the former communal spaces in the estate. 

Towards the end of the project an exhibition will be held at Park Hill to showcase our work, with technical support provided by HumanVR.