The space, an abandoned brownfield site in a former industrial quarter in Sheffield, came to the attention of occursus during the course of a programme of urban walks organised by the group. Situated on the corner of Matthew Street and Doncaster Street in Shalesmoor, the site occupies what was the former site of Doncaster & Sons foundry established in 1778. After various developments spanning the last century, the site was finally purchased by the Sheffield City Council during the construction of the Inner Relief Road, and has been unused since.
The site is now at the heart of a 3-year collaborative project to transform a disused urban wildscape into a curated space for the local community. The project takes its name from an 18th-century cementation furnace still standing at the southern entrance of the site. ‘Furnace Park’ alludes to the site’s industrial past, but also to its near future, as an external space for the production of diverse and cross-disciplinary performances, exhibitions, collaborative projects and dialogues.
Creative practioners and researchers from the arts are leading the project in collaboration with SKINN. The project is part of the plastiCities research initiative at the University of Sheffield, which explores how the Arts & Humanities might participate creatively in considering how our cities are imagined, represented, planned and inhabited. Furnace Park has a number of sponsors including the Faculty of Arts and the Arts Enterprise committee at the University of Sheffield, the Sheffield Crucible (funded by NESTA), Roxspur and DLA Piper.