Designed in Sheffield: Plans for new world-class Social Science facility approved

The University of Sheffield’s plans for a new, world-class Social Sciences facility have been approved by Sheffield City Council. Councillors were unanimous in voting to approve the application and were exceptionally positive in praising the world-class design.

Designed by award-winning Sheffield based architects HLM, the proposed state-of-the-art home for the University’s Faculty of Social Sciences will improve learning for students through its new collaborative teaching and social spaces and offer a wide range of disciplines under the same roof for the first time.

It will also include a research hub, bringing together cross-cutting research centres in an innovative working environment to encourage truly interdisciplinary research that will lead the way in addressing key societal and global challenges.

The building has been designed with sustainability at its core and it is expected that it will be the University’s first building to achieve a BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) ’Outstanding’ rating. Ground source heat pumps will be installed to maximise the opportunity created by thermal warmth, and provide cooling in the summer.

Director of HLM Nick Beecroft said:

“The realisation of these designs will be a tremendous step forward for the University and the City. This is our home city, and we, HLM, are proud to be working with the University of Sheffield. We are delighted to see this important step forward for their estate, their students and the city more widely. This is an exciting project to be part of.”

The Faculty of Social Sciences is the University’s largest faculty, with more than 9,000 students – making up 34 percent of the University’s total student population.

The Faculty comprises 13 departments, several cross-cutting research institutes, and the White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership. The Faculty is unique among its peers in the Russell Group in having both classical social sciences disciplines such as Politics and Economics, but also practitioner-based disciplines such as Architecture and the Information School.

Professor Gill Valentine, Vice-President and Head of Faculty for Social Sciences, said:

“Our Faculty is leading the way in impactful learning, teaching and research. The new facility has the potential to secure future development in these areas by bringing our students and academics together in an innovative, interdisciplinary environment.”

​Keith Lilley, Director of Estates and Facilities Management at the University of Sheffield, said:

“This is a really significant development for us and we’re really pleased with the way we’ve been able to work with HLM to achieve a design which looks fantastic, provides superb teaching and learning space for our students and underpins our efforts to continue to develop a more sustainable campus. We’re delighted that planning permission has now been granted and look forward to seeing this exciting building take shape over the next two years.”

Montagu Evans provided planning and heritage advice on this project. Julian Stephenson, Partner at Montagu Evans and head of its planning and development team, said:

 “These plans required considerable local engagement and close working with stakeholders to achieve such a welcome result but the physical co-location of the Faculty’s disciplines under one roof is pivotal to Sheffield’s ambition to be recognised as one of the strongest Faculties of Social Sciences in Europe. This is an important step forward for the University, helping consolidate its estate and free up town centre space for other disciplines.”

The proposed new facility will also provide departmental bases for the Departments of Economics, Politics, Sociological Studies, the Sheffield Methods Institute and the Faculty of Social Sciences office.

The adjacent Elmfield Building, which currently houses the Department of Politics, will provide the departmental homes for the Information School, Journalism Studies and the School of Education. This will bring departments in closer proximity to the Sheffield University Management School on Conduit Road.

Construction work on the Social Sciences building will start on site in early 2018, with an expected completion date of Spring 2020.