University of Sheffield Whole School Event

The University of Sheffield Landscape Department recently invited Planit-IE to lead their ‘Whole School Event’, an annual 2-day workshop involving 100 students and members of staff.

Based on a shared desire to challenge thinking about what makes urban spaces successful, we enlisted the support of Standard Practice’s Joe Hartley. Together we co-authored a ‘Whole School Event’ brief designed to encourage creative responses to a site both rich in heritage and opportunity – Manchester’s Medieval Quarter. The site is well known to the practice, having recently submitted a planning application on behalf of Manchester City Council for a new public park along the banks of the River Irwell. Our proposals include the creation of a major civic space in front of Manchester Cathedral, which seeks to celebrate this historic asset and incorporate public art within an urban park environment.

Having congregated in Sadler’s Yard on a somewhat chilly morning, the students were taken on a guided walk of the Medieval Quarter site and other city centre spaces in which Planit are currently involved, most notably Albert Square. They were challenged to respond to and record what the Medieval Quarter meant to them, or could represent in the future. This was done through a hands-on workshop with Standard Practice in PLANT NOMA, etching and cutting representations into Lino blocks.  

The second day of the event took the form of a studio session in The University of Sheffield’s Arts Tower. Students spent the morning brainstorming in groups, thinking about the identity of Manchester’s Medieval Quarter and possible placemaking interventions that had the potential to put local communities at the fore. Some fantastic responses emanated from the workshop; creative, relevant and absolutely of the locale – Presentation of the best ideas were rewarded with prizes. 

The event culminated in the printing of each individuals Lino cut block from the previous day, to create a large scale collaborative installation in the studio which represented the students’ collective response to the Medieval Quarter site. The event was a great success and enjoyed by all who took part. It was particularly gratifying for the team to receive the following feedback from Senior Lecturer at the department Andy Clayden:

I just wanted to say thanks to everyone that contributed to this year’s Whole School Event from Planit-IE, Standard Practice and the Department of Landscape. Each practice brings something different to this event and I think this year the combination of workshops, placemaking and site visits worked really well. From the brief conversations that I have had with students from different years they appear to have really enjoyed and benefited from this experience.  I also think it is massively helpful in creating an opportunity to bring the different year groups together which has many longer term benefits.

On a personal note, it was an absolutely pleasure to work with students and staff, and return to the Arts Tower where I have both studied and tutored. Joining forces with co-creatives, Standard Practice – now part of the Planit-IE family – added another dimension, and we felt we gained so much from the students and the experience of leading their Whole School Event. We’d like to thank everyone who took part and hope to be invited back to run similar events in the future.

Written by Frank Fitzpatrick, Project Landscape Architect