Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Today is the 12th, and it is quite wet! We too have been saturated with a wealth of information over the past few days.
I have now begun to understand the city space and orient myself properly. It is one city with many layers of history. I have seen old and new in artwork, architecture, streetscape, vegetation, and gardens. Despite this variety, a recognition amongst the entire urban space brings the city together around steel.
Some of the buildings of the university are designed to look like Bessemer Converters. There is artwork everywhere made of stainless steel, invented in Sheffield. Hundreds of historical buildings dot the landscape, the landscaping of the train station involves a steel water feature, and museums proudly display the heritage of the steel industry.
The high quality stainless steel cutlery, rail lines, and a variety of objects were so famous from Sheffield that the city itself became a synonym for high-quality steel. Trevor Hogan mentioned his grandparents treating their wedding present, a Sheffield dinner set, as so precious it was barely touched. The emphasis of the steel industry put Sheffield on the map, and then took it off again due to refusal to diversify.

Sheffield understates its heritage buildings immensely. None of the cathedrals or town halls and such are pointed out as places to see - not even the steel-related heritage, save the museum. The industrial area near Kelham is going through similar regeneration to the Melbourne waterfront, due to deindustrialisation of developed countries. But even the new in Sheffield is not celebrated as the Docklands development is in Melbourne. Sheffield seems to be rather blasé about what it means to be a twenty-first century city, and its success in adjusting has been quite understated. Perhaps it is time for Sheffielders to see themselves as innovators - all the facilities are here, including Britain's third largest university, an educated population, and a central location in Britain.

- Terence Bell (Bachelor of Urban, Rural and Environmental Planning)


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