Tudor Square – Sheffield

Tudor Square is at the cultural and visitor heart of Sheffield, hosting the nationally renowned theatres, galleries, the Central Library and Winter Gardens, as well as events such as the famous World Snooker Championships.

A prime feature of the ambitious regeneration by Sheffield City Council of Tudor Square at the heart of Sheffield’s city centre, was the design and installation of a number of organically shaped Yorkstone pebble planters. The complex planters are made up from anything between 10 and 23 pieces of intricately shaped Crosland Hill Hard Yorkstone, and weigh upwards of 3.5 tonnes. The project comprised of 173 individual components, elliptical on both plan and in section and with obscurely angled joints thrown in for good measure.

It was clear as far back as the feasibility discussions with the designer that this was a special project and one that would require a new way of thinking in terms of manufacture. A combination of the size, complexity and an onerous production schedule meant that traditional stone masonry skills alone could not solely be relied upon to produce the smooth organic shaped features which belied the highly technical design that only a stone engineering solution could overcome. The magnificent raised planters were manufactured by the latest high tech machinery at Johnsons Wellfield’s stone production facility at Crosland Hill, Huddersfield.

In order to prevent the manufacture being lost to overseas competitors, Johnsons embarked upon an immediate investment program and in doing so created the UK’s largest robotic masonry workshop. A unique training program was developed to add CGI modeling and tool path creation to Johnsons stone masons’ traditional masonry skill set. This was a vital ingredient in the development of the final appearance of the planters and although this required a significant level of financial investment against a backdrop of the recession, it was clearly a route that ran parallel with Johnsons objectives in developing new energy efficient production techniques that promote sustainability.

The regeneration project has created a new look Tudor Square with much more accessible space. A combination of natural materials including stone, wood and metal together with a mixture of floral displays and grasses, completes the look.