24 July 2017

‘Rethinking Democracy in God’s Own Country’ by Matthew Bloomfield, recipient of the Bryan Jefferson Prize for Excellence in Architecture

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The second recipient of the Bryan Jefferson Prize for Excellence in Architecture, awarded to the highest scoring fifth-year student at the Sheffield School of Architecture, is Matthew Bloomfield for his resolutely titled project ‘Rethinking Democracy in God’s Own Country’.

Here, Matthew presents his thinking behind the project:

Narrative montage

“Beginning this design project in the wake of a number of political shocks, there was an opportunity to question the nature of democratic action, challenging the reductionist trend in political discourse and arguing for nuanced responses to complex issues.

These themes were explored through the tongue-in-cheek suggestion of Yorkshire Independence from the UK and the proposal of a Parliament Building for God’s Own Country to be built in Sheffield. This would sit alongside a range of leisure facilities and essential services, which aim to increase and enrich democratic functionality."


"The architecture rejects the contemporary simplification of both politics and buildings into soundbites and icons. Instead, it celebrates the complexity and multi-faceted nature of architecture and politics, delivering an emblem rather than an icon.

With the provision of such a range of facilities in one place, a hybrid campus is delivered which unifies political, social, commercial and leisure uses, creating an ideal model of civic life and a more accountable, more engaged politics.”

An aerial view

Model of 'Rethinking Democracy in God's Own Country'

Matthew commented:

"Being awarded the Bryan Jefferson Prize means a great deal to me. On beginning my studies in Sheffield I was impressed by a number of his buildings throughout the city, and I think it important that his legacy is continued in the listing of these buildings, the annual awarding of this prize by SSOA, and the continued work of the practice Jefferson founded. I hope that a project which explores regional identity and strives for a legibly expressed architecture would sit well with Jefferson’s own values as an architect and educator.

Jefferson Sheard’s Managing Director, Tom Rhys Jones, commented:

“It gives us great pleasure in awarding this prize to Matthew for his Parliament project which successfully demonstrates the interface between the built environment and the socio-political context. Bryan was an influential figure in the architectural landscape of the 1970s and 80s, being the chief architectural advisor to Margaret Thatcher, and I'm sure he would have enjoyed Matthew's tongue-in-cheek proposal for a parliament building in his native Sheffield.”

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