“Uncertain Power” an exhibition as part of FutureBuild conference

6-7 November 2014, Sheffield City Hall

This exhibition is a result of a two year public-participatory research project that has explored different opportunities for local energy generation and conversion in Stocksbridge, north of Sheffield. It also showcases the work of associated energy projects in the UK, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. The exhibition questions the popular assumption that cost and efficiency are the only factors influencing the take-up and value of local energy technologies.

The centre piece of the exhibition is a 3.5 m long scale model of the steep sided, industrial Upper Don valley in which Stockbridge nestles. The model shows the potential for renewable energy in the area. 12 accompanying posters, co-authored by local residents, explore the ambitions for, and obstacles to, the utilisation of these resources and technologies.

Both academics and residents involved in the project will be present to discuss the work and answer any questions. Three discussion sessions will explore the complex relationships between energy politics, energy technologies and energy users at the local level.

The first session will introduce the work in Stocksbridge, which will describe the research journey, highlighting the local resources and associated technologies together with much broader visions for Stocksbridge.

The second session will look at photovoltaics (PV) in the home; in many senses the leading example of an equitable and scalable distributed local energy resource.

The closing session will look abroad, to the consequences of “access to electricity for all” programmes in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Finally a screening of “Off the Grid”, a film shot in Bangladeshi solar homes, will be shown.

FutureBuild is free to attend but please register online at: https://www.futurebuild.eu/Register.aspx

To see the exhibition centre piece under construction for its current use in Stockbridge please visit http://youtu.be/Eph_DP-ZpxM

Alastair Buckley and the Solar Energy in Future Societies research team (Anna Krzywoszynska, Jose Mawyin, Britta Turner, Raihana Ferdous, Huw Birch, Helen Holmes, Prue Chiles, Nicky Gregson, Matt Watson, Dave Stone, Martin Foster, David Lidzey)

Solar Energy in Future Societies is an EPSRC funded research project involving the Universities of Sheffield and Durham

New facilities at SSoA

The School of Architecture is opening new extended and enhanced workshop facilities at our George Porter site. The new facilities will offer a greatly enhanced range of equipment and services including three laser cutters, bandsaw, disc and belt sander, vacumn former, hot sheet bender, professional sewing machine, TIG welding, plunge saw, 18V drills, 18V impact drivers and personal loan toolkits for students. An on site shop will sell a range of timber, plastics, metals and model making materials. Work is nearly finished in readiness for the new semester.


Satwinder Samra chosen as one of 12 successful figures from the world of architecture for latest RIBA publication

Satwinder Samra, Director of Future Practice in the Sheffield School of Architecture, has recently been interviewed for the book ’21 things you won’t learn in Architecture School’ which was released this week. The book by Adrian Dobson, aims to draw from real life experiences of renowned architects across the country and includes fascinating insights from the world of psychology, sociology, marketing, economics, persuasion and resource management in relation to the practice and education of architects. It includes anecdotes, both witty and poignant as well as some beautiful hand drawn sketches from each of the participants. In the book Satwinder describes ‘some if his ideas for innovation in study routes and collaboration between leading architecture practices and students to create better links between academia and industry’.

More details here.

Sat RIBA WordPress

Festival of the Mind

18 – 28 September 2014

The Festival of the Mind is a collaboration between the University and the city of Sheffield. It’s an opportunity for academics, artists and the public to share ideas, learn from each other and promote the city’s vibrancy.

SSoA is contributing to the Festival of the Mind with the following projects:

ReMake Castlegate

Live Works is working with Yorkshire Artspace in the rapidly changing area of Castlegate, engaging with the people who live and work in Castlegate and surrounding neighbourhoods. Working with artists and community groups we will produce a large physical model of Castlegate featuring scale models of individual buildings: a day-glo Park Hill, the ghost of Castle Market, a 3D printed Megatron…The model will be open to the public throughout the Festival and provides the focus for a curated series of tours of the area and other participatory artworks and events. Find out more here.

Sheffield Urban Treasures

Sheffield Dream City is an urban initiative focused on exploring and engaging with the public realm. Sheffield Dream City has been working with SSoA’s Dr Cristina Cerulli to develop this game which aims to connect the festival venues with the city, inviting you to explore the places in between. Everyday spaces should be seen differently, becoming clues in a city-wide treasure hunt. The city becomes a game where ordinary things turn into puzzles. Explore the city in a new way and see if you can solve the final puzzle. Find out more here.

4×4 Making Places event – Where Will Our Grandchildren Live?

With the Leeds and Sheffield City Regions expected to increase in population by well over half a million people in the next 25 years (and over a million people in the next 50), where do we want to accommodate everyone? With successive governments talking about Eco-Towns and then Garden Cities and New Towns to try and meet some of the demand, what are our region’s real choices?

In October 2014, the Academy of Urbanism will be running a lecture series on the theme of “Where will our Grandchildren Live?” The events will be run in conjunction with the region’s leading universities and for the first time will be split between Sheffield and Leeds to ensure maximum opportunities for people to attend.

Four panel events will be held on consecutive Thursday evenings between 2 and 23 October 2014s. Details of how you can reserve your place can be found here.

The following line up has been confirmed for the 4X4 Making Places event which is being held at The Octagon on Thursday 16 October 2014. The Sheffield School of Architecture are delighted that we have our esteemed Professor Irena Bauman and Visiting Professor Tina Saaby speaking during this event.


Clive Betts MP for South East Sheffield


Tina Saaby, City Architect Copenhagen

John Hocking, Executive Director, Joseph Rowntree Trust

Jennie Daly, UK Director of Planning, Taylor Wimpey

Irena Baumann, Professor of Sustainable Urbanism at the University of Sheffield/Director, Baumann Lyons Architects

In memory of Professor Kenneth Murta…

Very sadly, Professor Kenneth Murta died on Wednesday 13. August 2104.  He will be very fondly remembered by many in the School.

Ken 550

Emeritus Professor Bryan Lawson has written the following obituary…

The School of Architecture at the University of Sheffield was formed initially to serve the needs of the local profession and community. Under the guidance of its second professor, John Needham it became firmly recognised as one of the UK’s significant schools. During the time of Ken Murta, only the fifth person to hold the title of professor, it steadily grew into the international school it is today. But Ken’s contribution to architectural education was on a far wider scale than his achievements at Sheffield.

Ken Murta studied at King’s College, Durham and had initially practised in the northeast and worked for a period in Nigeria. In 1962 he took a post at the Sheffield School, where he was to spend the rest of his career. By 1974 he had risen to be a professor and Dean of the Faculty that had formed in 1965 including departments of Building Science, Town and Regional Planning and Landscape Architecture. After the retirement of Professor Sir George Grenfell Baines, Ken became Head of School, a post that he was to hold in rotation with David Gosling until 1991.

But Ken simultaneously played much wider roles in the profession and overseas. Indeed a defining characteristic of his career was an abiding interest in the complex and sometimes problematic relationship between practice and education. Before arriving in Sheffield he had been part of the team that came fourth in the Sydney Opera House competition. He continued to practice throughout his career, often with his long-standing friend and colleague Jim Hall. In the mid sixties Ken began to work with John Needham, designing and building a local church. His interest in ecclesiastical architecture was to last a lifetime and, as well as completing many commissions, he became a leading light in the Ecclesiological Society. He edited the society’s journal for many years strongly supported by his long-standing and dedicated secretary Doreen Spurr.

Ken also played major roles in professional affairs initially leading the Yorkshire region of the RIBA. For many years he chaired the Board of Architectural Education at ARUCK. This body preceded the current ARB in administering the Act of Parliament that protected the title ‘architect’, maintained a register of qualified members and examined and recognised the courses run at Universities. In the early seventies representatives of all the British schools met at Nottingham University and formed a standing committee of the heads (SCHOSA) to debate and promote the interests of the schools. It was not long before Ken became chairman. He even persuaded British Gas to host their meetings and sponsor activities, recognising the growing importance of developing students with an informed approach to creating sustainable architecture.

At Sheffield, Ken drove forward a new route through the degree courses that reduced the students’ time at university from five to four years substituting an extra year in practice. This involved close co-operation between the host practice and the school, a cause that remained close to Ken’s heart. He also enthusiastically supported the Sheffield innovation of a ‘design teaching practice’ originated by his predecessor as head, George Grenfell-Baines.

On the international stage Ken lead the formation of a new course run jointly between northern British schools and universities in Malaysia. For many years both staff and students moved between the two locations. Eventually, as planned, the Malaysians became self-sufficient but Sheffield’s influence in Malaysia persists to this day. Ken assisted many overseas universities in the development of their architectural departments and simultaneously did much to promote RIBA recognition as an international ‘gold standard’. I have been fortunate to work at many universities in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. Wherever I went people would remember Ken with affection and respect and insist that I carry their regards back to him. His passing will be felt well beyond our shores. Ken supervised countless students now distributed around the world who frequently express their gratitude for his tuition and guidance and many have been sending their condolences.

It has not been unusual for heads of schools of architecture to struggle with their host universities and sometimes this has lead to a dangerous degree of isolation. This was never the case for Ken Murta at Sheffield. He was well-known throughout the university and through his efforts both the school and the faculty remained highly regarded. I observed Ken over many years successfully steering causes both within the university and beyond. He achieved his objectives not by being a narrow ‘committee man’ but rather through a calm and careful consideration of the personal and social impact of alternative courses of action on all stakeholders. This was not done in a calculating way but through a natural sensitivity to and interest in people’s feelings and motivations. We would often sit in his office long into the evening on eventful days reviewing the situation. There would inevitably be laughter and some refreshment but Ken would get things done. In spite of all his national and international responsibilities Ken was generous with his time and support for me and I know many others who felt the same.

One of the many occasions in Ken’s company that still raises a smile sums him up perfectly. Those who have been external examiners in schools of architecture will know how demanding it can be to get into the minds and designs of a succession of students who are complete strangers. Ken examined extensively and was sensitive to the needs of Sheffield’s external examiners. On one such occasion the day had been controversial, difficult and long. Ken decided the examiners deserved the very best so we drove them out to an illustrious establishment on the Chatsworth estate well known for its excellent chef. The enthusiasm for Nouvelle Cuisine was in full swing and, although the meal was creatively prepared and beautifully presented, Ken sensed an unspoken feeling that our guests were still hungry. He beckoned our waiter and asked if we could share a bowl of chips. A look of distain fluttered across the waiter’s face and some minutes later he returned to whisper politely in Ken’s ear that ‘chef regrets the fryer is not on tonight’. There was a sigh of relief around the table at this ingenious excuse for not delivering humble chips. But Ken insisted that we could wait while it was turned on. Eventually a solemn procession of the chef and two remaining waiters crossed the now empty restaurant bearing a huge silver tureen full of steaming chips. Ken ladled them onto our guests’ plates and they were gratefully devoured.

Life never seemed to be compartmentalised for Ken and our conversation would often range from family matters through sport to world events. Ken had been a fine footballer in his earlier years and he told me more than once how he had kept Brian Clough quiet for ninety minutes. Ken continued to play cricket for many years and his exploits both on and off the field of play generated many amusing anecdotes that get told and retold around the university. He was of course a dedicated family man and often spoke about his children. Whenever I met his wife Joan, who sadly left us before Ken, she was invariably forthcoming in her opinions of things ‘Kenny’ had done or said. On such occasions he would sit with a twinkle and a wink in his eye and chuckle quietly. We can only imagine his passing will be felt acutely by his wider family.

As with all of us Ken had his faults and blind spots. His driving was never immaculate and it often seemed to his passengers that they were on some mystery tour. It was said, only slightly unfairly, that he was the only person in the university able to occupy three spaces when parking his car. But the eccentric angle brought the benefit that you could easily spot his car from the school of architecture on the top floors of the Arts Tower and know he was in.

Few can have contributed as widely and consistently to architectural education. Ken was not ostentatious or dramatic and never pretentious, but worked with a quiet and effective humanity. There will be many whose life he has touched who will remember him with affection and gratitude. Throughout my career I could always turn to him for advice, encouragement and simple companionship. Even though I have not seen him since he moved to be near his daughter in the southeast a few years ago, the world now feels a lonelier place.

Bryan Lawson


Kaduna 550

Competition entry for a Cathedral at Kaduna, by Ken Murta and Jim Hall, 1962


Church 550

Church hall extension, St John’s Church, Hyde Park, Sheffield, by Ken Murta and Jim Hall c.1971 (photo by Russell Light)