15 September 2021

Zero carbon focused design nabs Bryan Jefferson Prize 2021

Posted by Jamie Handley Marketing & Bid Manager

Congratulations to Claire Wilkinson and Rosie Helps for being awarded the Bryan Jefferson Prize for Excellence 2021. The prize in honour of our Cofounder, Bryan Jefferson, celebrates the architectural talents of students at the Sheffield School of Architecture. Claire and Rosie proved worthy winners with their project, The Neepsend Co-operative.

The Neepsend Co-operative

The Neepsend Co-operative, set in Sheffield’s industrial Neepsend, integrates co-operative living with productive industry to explore the future of low carbon housing in response to the climate emergency and housing crisis. Centred on retrofit and design for deconstruction, this scheme investigates a culture of sharing to reduce our environmental impact whilst maintaining a legacy of production in our cities.

Built on a derelict brewery, this thesis utilises the existing infrastructure to minimise embodied carbon and material use. The new architectural interventions – multigenerational micro-neighbourhoods, co-operative hub, and fabrication laboratory - add layers into the site’s rich history to create a hybridised structure of existing brickwork and locally sourced timber – a test bed for transforming derelict industrial sites whilst meeting Sheffield Council’s zero carbon ambitions.

At the start of this project, we set a few ambitious rules including to use as much of the existing buildings as possible, utilise low carbon construction methods, achieve the passivhaus standard, and to allow for easy adaptability according to residents’ needs. These rules created many conflicting design problems which were challenging to work through, however they also allowed us to realistically investigate the complexities of retrofit and social housing in the UK. We endeavoured to balance heritage with low energy designs and explored in detail how the old and new could respect one another. We learnt a lot about balancing the logistics of sustainable development with the experience of residents during a multi-phase project, which we both hope to bring forward into our work in practice.

The Neepsend Co-operative encourages retrofit where possible, taking advantage of the existing concrete structures to avoid the use of additional wet trades and lowering the embodied carbon of the new works. It looks to investigate the full life-cycle of the additional materials used, endeavouring to design for deconstruction and in so avoiding materials which cannot be reused or recycled.

With careful design maintaining heritage and achieving low energy standards do not have to conflict.

The site this project is located on has been vacant for decades because the existing infrastructure makes the land more complex to develop and thus less enticing to developers. We need to instead view these existing buildings as valuable sources of material and structure to minimise the use of new concrete and its effect on the environment whilst instead promoting the use of low impact materials.

Claire & Rosie commented;

"We’d just like to say thank you to Jefferson Sheard Architects for the prize, it has been an honour to win it for our final year design thesis."

To view the full project portfolio, visit LINK