Castle Court, Sheffield

They say every good story has a beginning a middle and an end, but the intriguing story of Castle Court, a 1960’s residential tower block in Sheffield, is still far from at an end, thanks to great design and NorDan’s StormGuard windows.

Castle Court was built in the mid 1960’s as Hyde Park, one of a three tower development built as part of the remaking of post-war Sheffield.

But like many of the high-rise housing developments celebrated at that time, by the early 1980s Hyde Park had become run-down, with a reputation for poor quality housing and social deprivation.

But in the late 1980s two of the towers were earmarked for regeneration in order to provide athlete accommodation for the World Student Games, to be hosted by Sheffield in 1990.

Beyond the games, the redeveloped blocks would also deliver much needed, quality social housing managed by the then North Counties Housing Association (now The Guinness Partnership).

As a result, Castle Court became the North of England’s first ever high-rise over-cladding project, and the first large scale project in the North to incorporate NorDan’s StormGuard, double-glazed Tilt and Turn windows – around 400 in total.

Over thirty years on, and the building has developed a cult design status due to a combination of the ground breaking design, and also because Castle Court has become a living example of the benefit of high-quality specification.

A unique combination

So to the beginning, and the coming together of a visionary architect Peter Bell, and soon to be over-cladding specialist, Peter Hillyard.

Peter Bell of Peter Bell Architects explains: “By the late 1980’s I’d become the UKs only over-cladding expert, and prior to Castle Court I’d refurbished the iconic Parson’s Tower in Westminster, and Millbank House in Southampton.

“Sheffield City Council ran a design competition to regenerate the then Hyde Park towers, which was won by the city’s own team of architects. The winning design was over-cladding based, so the Council asked me to handle the project.

NorDan partnered with Allscott (now D&B Fabrication) led by Pete Hillyard, and Castle Court proved to be a transformative project for Pete: “The level of design and specification quality on that project set a standard that I endeavoured to maintain from that day forwards.

“Unbeknown to me at the time, the unique circumstances surrounding that project meant that thirty years on, it’s still a shining example of how to regenerate high-rise residential buildings.”

Peter Bell explains: “The impetuous provided by World Student Games made this a special project, and because of the unique knowledge I’d accumulated, I was given a freehand to specify what I understood to be sensible and safe at that time.”


Peter Bell continues: “I’d seen NorDan’s high performance windows in action whilst in Norway, and had been impressed by the company’s capacity to deliver timber windows and doors at scale – plus NorDan’s aluminium clad timber fitted well with the building’s aluminium facade.”

Pete Hillyard expands: “What I gained from Castle Court is that longevity is the best way to achieve value, so if you build to last, and surpass current standards, you can meet future standards.

“It may cost more to specify good quality products with great aesthetics, but the payback will be tenfold over the long-term.

“Castle Court is standing, empirical evidence of the wisdom of the investment made in 1990, because thirty years on not a single NorDan StormGuard window has needed to be replaced, and all the tilt-and-turn mechanisms still work.

“But most importantly, the homes are cosy, air and water tight, with windows that achieve 1.6w/m2C, which still meet today’s refurbishment standards. I don’t know of another brand of window that would still be there after more than a generation with no issues with closing, and no need for maintenance. It’s remarkable.”

A blueprint for quality

Pete Hillyard continues: “Sadly, history has taught us that there is a right way and a wrong way of doing this sort of high-rise regeneration, and the right over-cladding facades have proved to be high end, long lasting, stay clean, highly insulated, and non-combustible.

“The right windows are also long lasting, air and water tight, and highly thermally and acoustically insulated, and if you get all of these things right, you end up with a building that delivers truly sustainable regeneration.”

Peter Bell agrees: “The design and build formula at Castle Court was excellent, and it really should have become the blueprint for regenerating all the leaky, draughty 1960s tower blocks across the country.”

Pete Hillyard concludes: “Local authorities and social landlords have a lot of boxes to tick these days, not least providing people with high-quality, low-carbon and energy efficient homes that are easy to maintain.

“In my experience, windows such as PVCu and aluminium would have needed to be replaced after fifteen years, having leaked air and water, and been difficult to operate for much of that period, while NorDan’s windows will still be performing in all respects in 2030!

“I urge any specifier or architect considering a high-rise retrofit or new build project to review Castle Court or visit Sheffield, and discover the true value of good engineering.”

Find out more about NorDan StormGurad windows

Learn more about Castle Court from D&B Facades

Thank you to Peter Bell and Pete Hillyard for sharing their thoughts and experiences.

Jun 07, 2022
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