Next Project
SOM Foundation UK Award

The Secret Policemen's Saloon

Part 1 Project 2009
Robert Taylor
University of Sheffield | UK
Hidden inside Castlegate’s old Police Station, the Secret Policeman’s Saloon provides an after work club for the adjacent South Yorkshire Police’s headquarters in Sheffield’s city centre.

Accommodating a bar, an illegal brewery and a rugged hotel for the inebriated off duty officers, the project aims to expose Castlegate’s immoral underbelly and monumentalise its specific archaeology in a way that resists the future development plans for the area.

The narrative of the project was developed alongside its physical architecture as the complexity of the place’s moral condition was explored. As such, an architecture was conceived through a filmic schedule of operations and allegorically driven through 4 literal reversals of current architectural paradigms in Castlegate and the contemporary architectural canon:

Architecture posits the FAKE (not the AUTHENTIC)

DARKNESS is the revealer of form (not LIGHT)

Man is OFF-CENTRE of divine creation (not AT the centre)


These litanies, and every architectural idea, have been STOLEN from conveniently deceased architects so as to remove any responsibility for this illegal building from myself.

Augmented to propose a sustainable tactic to renovate the area in an alternate way to that Sheffield Council’s disruptive gentrification plan, in re-writing the future of a part of the city sous-rature, the Saloon aims to challenge both Castlegate and the modern city’s current divorce between provision and consumption and address the relegation of the factory from the urban landscape whilst including the city’s essential (though condemned) marginal spaces and activities.

Though the project is drawn as if it exists some time in the past, it speculates a regressive future for Castlegate and the unanaesthetised city. Through the use of a constantly updating palette of salvaged materials, the Saloon tectonically crystallises Castlegate’s current and past archaeology in order to provide spaces for the policemen to ultimately question their retreat from the progressive exhaustion of civic duty.

Should this criminal enterprise be disrupted by the authorities, the Saloon is designed to self destruct in a blaze of glory, committing suicide by pulling the Old Police Station and the neighbouring South Yorkshire Police Archive's walls in on themselves.

Robert Taylor

This project offers a Facility for a number of ‘vocations’ within the Castlegate area of Sheffield. Early studies included a the derivation of a carefully developed narrative, which posited police officers, brewers and traders (legal and illegal) within close proximity to each other. This narrative was thoughtful and highly inventive in terms of its reading of place, experience and subsequence representation and a subtle response to the idea of information exchange.

Relationships between buildings and power were embraced and furthered through rigorous research both in grounding the narrative in some challenging theory and the application of detail design at key moments in the design process. Rob took real ownership of his project and was intent on pushing the narrative and the subsequent engagement with building to a high standard.

The underlying polemic of the project- an alternative vocabulary of architecture from programme to detail- is well handled and successfully embeds the narrative without cliché. This has, along with his sophisticated satirical approach, produced a sophisticated resolution to the project which is rarely seen at degree level

The final piece of work is exemplary as not only does it offer fantastic tectonically resolved architectures but also a subtle and varied spatial sequence which weave and intervene not only with each other but also the existing fabric. His working methods have been excellent, his ability to think creatively in 3 dimensions is apparent through all the proposals. Overall this is an amazing piece of work that clearly shows a student who is able to produce stimulating architecture that is materially tactile and theoretically questioning. The architecture that he has produced is not only visually exciting but also theoretically rigorous in execution. Overall his work was awarded a 1st class degree and the final piece is a testament to his rigorous and thoughtful approach.

Carol Latham
Mr Satwinder Samra
• Page Hits: 65084         • Entry Date: 05 August 2009         • Last Update: 02 December 2009