The historic St. Vincent’s Church was originally constructed in 1856 and was last occupied in 1996, standing empty for twenty years until being acquired by UNITE Students. During this time the building fallen into a desperate state of disrepair. The challenge presented to Bowmer + Kirkland’s team was to sympathetically redevelop the church building for use as a communal student facility on a wider site development, restoring a community to an area that was depopulated from the 1970s onwards. This would see the construction of two new residential buildings, providing 598 bedrooms for students of The University of Sheffield. The two new buildings create a setting for the church as site’s focal point. The programme for the painstaking restoration works to the Church was required to run concurrently with the construction of the new residential buildings, aiming to achieve project completion ahead of the University’s intake in September 2018.
Bowmer + Kirkland were thus required to manage two distinctly different, yet uniquely interconnected developments on a single programme, all within a constrained city centre site. A further complexity for the project was presented in the form of a second historic building on the site – formerly St. Vincent’s Social Club. This had remained in use until September 2015, despite the building also being in a very poor condition. The design for the new student accommodation would need to allow for the integration of the main façade of the former Social Club building and the restoration of its external envelope.