A very delayed hello from The Wave
Plus a festive farmers' fundraiser that has raised thousands
Good evening, readers — and welcome to our Monday briefing.
You’ve probably heard of an “Irish goodbye,” when someone slips out of a party without letting anyone know, but what about an Irish hello? The Wave, the University of Sheffield’s newest building, was finished all the way back in December last year but, curiously, only officially opened a few weeks ago. Has the university been feverishly planning the event for the last eleven months — or was it hoping people would have short memories about the project’s pitfalls?
In addition to that, we have two new exhibitions to enjoy early this week and a farmers’ fundraiser that has raised thousands for children.
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Catch up and coming up
For our weekend read, Holly Williams reported on a new way of making rave music that began in Sheffield and has spread across the world. Algorave artists create music live with the help of computer code and strive to make the new genre as egalitarian as possible. To prove how easy it is to get involved, Algorave founding father Alex McLean gave Williams a hands-on introduction — you can read how it went here.
Last week, we sent out two members-only pieces to our 1,830 paying subscribers. In the first, Dan visited a new exhibition inspired by Sheffield’s rivers with two people who think about them more than most: artist Alison Churchill and Simon Ogden, the chair of the Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust. You can read an excerpt from that piece below. For our second story, Victoria reported on the University of Sheffield’s controversial decision to stop using dissection of donated bodies as a teaching tool. The university argues digital teaching methods are just as good, but many students disagree.
The new show only takes up one room at the huge Victorian museum, but there’s almost no bit of the wall or floor left unused. As well as art which focuses on the beauty of Sheffield’s famous five rivers (the Don, Sheaf, Porter, Rivelin and Loxley), there is also lots on what is arguably their most important function: as the working rivers which powered Sheffield’s industries over centuries. Simon Ogden says that more than anything they are the reason why what would otherwise be an “unlikely and remote spot” was first chosen as the birthplace of a city.
Next week we’ll send out two more, including one on a development that could forever change the Sheffield skyline. If you want to read it, please subscribe using the button below. It costs just £1.34 a week for two extra stories, or 23p a day if you pay for 12 months up front (£70).
Find a more unusual home for your business at Sheaf Bank
From today’s sponsor: Are you looking for an interesting base for your business? The Sheaf Bank business park is a gorgeous heritage silverworks factory in Heeley. Nestled between the River Sheaf and Heeley People’s Park (map), it has a range of units available, from small offices to large semi-industrial spaces — with options to scale up as your business grows. You’d be joining a friendly and eclectic business community: current tenants include joiners and cabinet makers, archaeologists, cycle makers, therapists, artists, and clothing makers among others. Sheaf Bank is an independent workspace, where Josie and the team take time to fully understand your business needs, and work with you to make the space work for you. For more details, including how to get in touch with the team, click here.
The big picture: Tractors for tots 🚜
Andrew Radford snapped this picture of the Bradfield Christmas Tractor Run, an annual parade which this year raised money to support Sheffield Children’s Hospital. According to the GoFundMe page, they’ve already collected more than £3,000 and are still accepting donations if you’d like to add to that figure.
This week’s weather ⛅️
Our weather forecast comes from dedicated Sheffield weather service Steel City Skies, who say this will be a changeable week split between dry periods and spells of rain.
Monday ⛅️ A good deal of dry and bright weather expected, with just a few showers around. Gradually less windy, with highs a respectable 9°C.
Tuesday ☔ Low pressure to the west provides a wet morning, with a gradual trend to drier weather as fronts clear east. Winds light initially, with highs around 8°C.
Wednesday ⛅️ A chilly and fresh breeze from the north greets us mid-week, with cloud breaking to sunshine. As winds ease later, a frost is possible overnight. Highs of 6°C.
Thursday 🌦 A weakening front may provide us with a wet spell in the morning, with wintriness over the tops. Otherwise it's an improving picture, with 8°C the high.
Friday ⛅️ By the end of the week, high pressure should have a stronghold over much of the UK, with a dry and bright day favoured. Highs of around 8°C.
Outlook: 🌥 High pressure still centred to the south, with low pressure squeezed to the north. Breezy from the west or southwest with a few showers but lengthy dry spells too.
The big story: A very delayed hello from The Wave
Top line: Despite finishing the building all the way back in December of last year, the University of Sheffield waited until last month to “formally open” its new building The Wave, located in Broomhill. Was the university saving the good news for when it really needed a boost, or was it waiting for people to forget the more embarrassing moments on the journey to this point?
A green first: The Wave, named for its flowing shape, is the university’s first ever entirely net-zero building and the new home of its social sciences department, which was previously scattered across 18 buildings around campus. It features solar panels to generate the building’s electricity and ground-source heat pumps to warm it up in winter and cool it down in summer. At its opening, deputy vice-chancellor Gill Valentine said:
“The Wave will provide our world-leading community of social scientists, a space to work together to confront the complex questions of our time. A place where our students can work across subject boundaries to analyse pressing social challenges such as the climate crisis, the housing crisis, rapid urbanisation, racial injustice and democratic decay.”
Green building or greenhouse? However, The Wave’s innovative heating system didn’t exactly cover itself in glory this summer, when some staff reported they were sweltering under its glass roof. A spokesperson for the university acknowledged that some parts of the building got “uncomfortably warm” but told The Star that this was because its heating system was “still being calibrated”. Tweets from lecturers complaining about the problem have seemingly all now been deleted.
An unfortunate do-over: Despite all the good The Wave hopes to do for the earth, it seems the earth was not entirely on board with the project at first. Construction on the building began (for the first time) in May 2019 but, by early the following year, “ground movement” had compromised its concrete frame. Construction company BAM was eventually forced to demolish their work up to that point and start all over again, with the university making it very clear at the time that it would not be footing the bill for this extra work. In 2019, one resident said living near the site when building work was taking place was like “living at ground zero”.
More red faces: If the university hoped that delaying the official opening would avoid further embarrassment, then it was sadly mistaken. The opening of The Wave last month was disrupted by student activists, furious at the university’s ties with companies that supply arms to the Israeli government. The protest was organised by Sheffield Action Group (SHAG), who have consistently been a thorn in the institution’s side, as we reported earlier this year.
Our take: While reporting on our story about the end of dissections at the university last week, one student remarked on how galling it can be to see their alma mater make (what they feel are) cost-cutting decisions after throwing millions at a fancy new building. It’s an understandable point but, on the other hand, it’s important not to ignore the fact that constructing a net-zero building of this size is a real achievement. The University of Sheffield was recently ranked the 24th most sustainable university in the world — and The Wave is a brilliant example of its successes in this area.
The Weekly Whitworth ✍️
Our resident cartoonist James Whitworth with an evergreen comic inspired by the festive season.
Our media picks 🎧
Is Sheffield the most miserable place to watch football? ⚽️ There’s been plenty of ink spilled recently about the current fortunes of our two main football teams but this long-read from The Times is an addition worth reading. It places the recent trials and tribulations in their proper context and is written with a lot of (affectionate) humour. For example, it opens with a Sheffield United fan in the stands at a recent game trying to secure a WiFi password. “I want to watch one of the other games that’s on,” he tells the Times. “It’s bound to be better than watching us.”
'Don’t go down rabbit holes with the Tories' 🎤 The House recently published this interview with Lord David Blunkett, a politician who undoubtedly left his mark on the city and the country. Lord Blunkett was the leader of Sheffield Council for much of the 1980s and later served in Tony Blair’s cabinet — but what is perhaps most interesting is how his politics have developed over the decades. As Labour peer Baroness Chakrabarti puts it, he has “transitioned from sometime human rights sceptic to being an elder-statesman defender of justice for some of the most marginalised prisoners and refugees.”
Remembering Anne Goodchild 🖼️ You might not have known Anne Goodchild by name but it’s more than possible you saw and enjoyed the fruits of her labour. In this obituary in the Guardian, her friend Gill Hedley celebrates her work as senior curator of the Graves Art Gallery, a post she adored and held until her retirement in 2007. Though she was born in Ilford, Goodchild spent most of her life in Broomhill.
Home of the week 🏡
This three-bedroom house in Hillsborough looks great for a new family or even a professional couple that want room for a home office or two. It has a cellar and small garden and benefits from having tram stops nearby. The guide price starts at £250,000 — find out more here.
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Things to do 📆
Exhibition 🎨 Tonight at 6pm is the opening night of a new exhibition that’s a perfect antidote to winter nights: Landscape & Light. Nether Edge artists Panni Loh, Barbara Maitland, Elizabeth Timms and Rosalie Wyatt are displaying their paintings at the Old Chapel Studios and Gallery on Union Road. If you can’t make it down tonight, don’t worry, as you can still pop down for free until Saturday at 4pm.
Run 🏃 On Tuesday evening, you’re invited to walk, jog or run 5K around Endcliffe Park as part of a festive fundraiser for The Children’s Hospital Charity. The event is called Glow in the Park and a light-up costume, whether you’re using glowsticks or fairy lights, is very much encouraged. As the charity writes, “every step you take on the night will make a huge difference for patients and families” — find out more here.
Art trail 🖌️ On Wednesday, head to Kelham Island between 4pm and 11pm for an art trail through four of the neighbourhood’s bars, presenting the work of undiscovered artists. The event, organised by A Friendly Neighbourhood, is a chance to enjoy four exhibitions in four mediums within a short walk from each other. If you can’t make it on Wednesday to meet the artists then you can still appreciate their work until 21st December.