Creating a new space for Yoomee

by Andy Mayer
Posted on 16 September 2016
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We want to see our local area regenerated, so we've bought 400 square metres (4,300 square feet in 'old money') of commercial space over three floors at Park Hill in Sheffield. Our plan is to move our studio out of Electric Works and into new, larger premises. It means we'll add a collaborative space for workshops and local community projects to our name too.

Room to grow

Seven years ago, we moved into Electric Works, the first office in the country to have a helter skelter. It's been a fun and fruitful time. Now we're ready to move on, grow and invest in our own building. That building is the empty concrete shell space at Park Hill, which is quickly becoming a new creative and digital hub in Sheffield.

The move will allow Yoomee to operate from a building more suited to our needs. Our new office will give us more space to expand into and give us the flexibility to:

  • offer meeting space to community groups
  • support social innovation projects in the city
  • incubate social enterprises
  • run our own networking events with voluntary and community groups.
  • invite other like minded companies into the space to collaborate

A landmark building

For those who don't know, Park Hill is a giant, concrete Brutalist structure that started life as a bustling new home for council tenants in the 1960s. It was one of the most ambitious inner-city housing projects of its era and has become something of a local landmark.

Three-metre-wide communal walkways – known as the "streets in the sky" promoted by Le Corbusier's Unité d'Habitation – were designed as a modern replacement for the cobbled terraces of the former slums. They were wide enough to let a milk float go by or to allow children to play outdoor games, and were planned to encourage neighbours to interact with one another as they might on a regular street.

Sadly, Park Hill soon became notorious for its crime and drug problems. The building was eventually condemned as a concrete eyesore and is hated by many in Sheffield. Over the past few years, award-winning property developers, Urban Splash, have taken it on as a huge regeneration project. It's a bit like marmite; you either love it, or hate it.

We absolutely love it. So, nearly two years ago we took a risk and started the purchase. Since then, we've seen the area prosper, with landscaping and further investment by other local creative companies. Sheffield City Council has created a new public park, South Street Open Space, between the railway station and Park Hill. It includes a series of seating terraces and new planted areas. Just across the way from Electric Works, it feels a million miles away. The 'park' of 'Park Hill' gives space to breathe and at times you feel like you're in the Peak District rather than the city centre.

Making it a reality

Eight weeks ago, we commissioned Ovo Spaces to start fitting out the interior and we've been working with architect, Studio Gedye, to help us get the design right. Here are some photos of the work currently in progress:

Above: Panoramic photo of second floor studio space with sound-proofed meeting rooms. (click to pan) Above: First floor space for workshops and community projects.

Above: Opening up the ground floor entrance on South Street by removing part of the floor above.

Above: View from first floor and removal of floor above the entrance area below.

Open-source, open space

Rich Wells, our Creative Director, has been working on the interior plan, with inspiration from Open Desk designing, and making our own Open Source furniture. A key goal is to make sure our new space supports Yoomee's collaborative and flexible working style.

Using tools including Google Sketchup, Rich has been able to make a 3D model of the space so we can visualise and plan how we use it.

We've found the book, Make Space: How to Set the Stage for Creative Collaboration, by the Stanford Institute of Design, a great resource and guide for designing collaborative and open workspaces. Our goal is to experiment with ways of customising the physical space to support our style of Agile working and open collaboration. We'll be sharing lessons learned as we go along. The current plan is to move in before the end of October 2016. So watch this space!

Related links

360 Panorama of top floor under construction

2017 Update: Finished!

Now that that the space is finished check out the photos. We're also offering some of the space for rent, so get in touch if you are interested.

Posted on 16 September 2016 - By Andy Mayer
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