Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Sheffield - first impressions

With two days of personal experience in Sheffield my first impressions have formulated.  The thing that has struck me is the physical and functional similarity to Australian cities.  Firstly, most nodes of transport including buses, trams and trains are familiar to Australia where cars drive on the same side of road while vehicle and pedestrian signs are almost identical back home. A strong connection to public transport and walking links are established to the town centre which has startled me where there is minimal vehicle traffic.  This is of complete contrast to Dubai which can has an over reliance of cars with constant traffic congestions.  Sheffield’s city centre also has a corresponding town centre function with Australia by having a multi-purpose use attracting large quantities of the population through the provision of interactive street shopping malls, vast amounts of service sector employment such as Sheffield-Hallam University. 

It can also been perceived that Sheffield is dissimilar to Australian culture in many ways.  Unfamiliar food, strong English accents and unusual phases such as “are you ok” to mean “how are you” are difficult to grasp.  Additionally, housing forms and architectural styles with narrow lanes are dissimilar. Dwellings of a greater density with terrace-style housing occupying minimal backyards are depicted in the image below.  This contrasts typical Australian suburbia with large backyards and low density housing.  Our current living conditions in ‘liberty works’ reiterates the gentrification process which has occurred throughout many post-industrial steel related sites within Sheffield into housing. 

Through current observations, Sheffield has a strong connection to the garden-city movement occupying green belts with high density trees and vegetation surrounding suburbia which was surprising as Sheffield was a heavily industrial and polluted city during 18th-20th century.  
Meanwhile, the climate hasn’t been as inviting as I perceived a European summer to be where mild rainy days reaching less than 18 degrees are normal which further reminds me of being in a foreign place.  
Sheffield suburban housing

On a final note, my first impressions of Sheffield are of high standard from the once grim and notorious city that has been argued to once be. 
- Taila Maher (Bachelor of Urban, Rural and Environmental Planning)

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