A giant panda sculpture was installed at New Era Square – the £66 million modern Asia-inspired development at St Mary’s Gate and Yorkshire’s newest public space.
Part of the site’s wider art installation, the largest panda, which is an impressive four metres high, has been mounted on the rooftop corner of New Era Square’s core office building.
The panda is a symbol for friendship and peace in Chinese culture, and the joyful display is now clearly visible to Sheffield’s public when approaching from the city centre or driving by on the ring road.
The scheme’s construction contractor, Bowmer + Kirkland, were given the delicate task of hoisting the panda, which weighs a whopping 1,350kg – about the same as a car – onto its new rooftop home. The panda’s final resting point is over 97 metres from the ground.
Bowmer + Kirkland’s Regional Director, Christian Parnell, commented: “The New Era Square scheme has been a major project for us since we started on site in November 2015. I’d like to think that the entire project team, including our client, have become friends and it is fitting, therefore, that the final part of the scheme is to lift the panda, symbol of friendship, onto the roof of the building. It has been a privilege to be involved with this development.”
The main panda, along with two smaller pandas – one clambering up the side of a pillar and one resting on a bench – is the creation of David Wei of Hatch Architects. A UK-qualified architect, Wei is renowned for producing visually inspiring art works for flagship Chinese developments.
Upon arriving in the UK last month, the panda was then fabricated by local Sheffield firm Campbell Design and Engineering Ltd.
Rongmin Qin, Executive Director at New Era Developments, said: “With New Era Square, our ambition has always been to deliver a true example of what modern Asia has to offer. Going far beyond the classic China Town experience in the UK, the development marries the excitement and dynamism of modern Asia with the best of Western culture.
“We also wanted to create something special for the city of Sheffield. Now more than ever, we are seeing the important role that open public spaces within our busy urban environment play in our mental health and wellbeing. We believe that New Era Square and its bold art installations is truly unique in the UK and complements Sheffield’s creative personality perfectly.
“It’s an iconic new landmark for residents and visitors.”
Finishing touches are currently being added to the square, which supports the long-term aim to better connect London Road with the City Centre. The development also features a mix of quality office space, apartments, contemporary restaurant and retail units, and an 83-space underground car park.