One Great Workshop

UDALL Portland Works Postboxes

‘We must regard it as one great workshop for the production of cutlery and edge-tools – a huge factory which scatters its separate departments in different parts of the town, but still retains them all, like so many links in a chain.’                                                                                                                                                 The Penny Magazine, 1844

In the 19th century Sheffield was referred to as ‘One Great Workshop.’ The network of factories in Sheffield, along with the tradition of ‘Little Mesters’ – specialist craftsmen­– shaped the physical, social and economic landscape of the city. In recent years many of the integrated factories have diversified in use, with new makers, such as artists and musicians moving in, and with traditional craftsmen still using their old tools and practices, but combining them with more high tech equipment and processes. The past, present and future of Sheffield’s industries large and small is tied to changing relations with energy in the workplace. Over the next six weeks, Future Works is partnering with SSoA, University of Sheffield, in its Live Projects programme. The Live Project – ‘One Great Workshop’– will explore energy and making in Sheffield. The client for the project is Portland Works, a Grade 2 * listed former cutlery works that has been in community share ownership since 2013 as a result of a successful campaign. Portland Works provides affordable workspaces for small manufacturing businesses as well as independent artists and craftsmen.  As a community-owned social enterprise it is intent on promoting small-scale businesses, developing the potential of the site as a workplace that considers social benefits and safeguarding the heritage of manufacturing in the city of Sheffield. All of these aims need to consider approaches to energy in what promises to be a carbon limited and resource constrained future. Julia and Renata will be mentoring a group of MArch and MAAD students who are exploring the future energy strategy for Portland Works in the context of the city, looking at its potential as ‘One Great Workshop’. We will be following the students’ progress and are excited to see what they come up with. Portland Works photo: Julia Udall

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