I love the Diamond and I am not afraid to write 725 words about it
A diamond in the rough
I first saw The Diamond from the perspective of a Sheffield Hallam student, askew as you think that may be.
You have an insane amount of free time in first year and when I wasn't spending it eating Doritos and salsa (hot) for my tea or trying to explain to my parents that I was actually eating properly, I liked to explore Sheffield. A brisk walk down to Hunter's Bar at the bottom of Ecclesall Road, maybe, an excursion to Meadowhall, a trip up to Uni Of territory to see what all the fuss was about, you know, as a Hallam student.
That was when I first saw it. There it was, the building shortlisted for the worst new build in the UK, the very same building nominated as the ugliest in Europe, £81 million for a building that, let's be honest, doesn't really look like a diamond. You can see it as you walk up past St. George's Church, although to say it sticks out would be doing it a disservice. It is across the road from a building that has a square peak, the deck of spaceship almost, above it's entrance, and Jessop West down the road is hardly traditional looking, inside in particular.
If the Diamond was built on Grand Designs, Kevin McCloud would be there, gilet, frowning, a little aside to camera, telling us all what a mess this build has been, some poor middle class couple who have recently sold their architectural company to build there dream home out of recycled plastic and grass realise they've gone over budget and you know, you just know, they've going to be divorced any time soon.
But it's not Grand Designs, it's Sheffield and it's a University building. Whatever you may think about it being a waste of space, I am not here to talk about that. Perhaps you feel that the space is equally wasted with the IC's numerous social study spaces when there could be more computers. I've said it before, going to the library is better alone, and I'm not here to say it again – although I suppose I am.
Either way, I am here to tell you that I love the Diamond.
Aesthetically, it's interesting looking to say the least. Honestly, it doesn't look like a diamond, maybe more like rhombus' if I'm being totally honest, but I guess that doesn't really sound great.
"Hey, where are you next?"
The Diamond rolls off the tongue better, I guess. But does it look any worse than say, the IC? If you've ever had a lecture or seminar inside Hallamshire Hospital, surely the Diamond is a welcome change from the hospital's call back to brutalism. Is the Diamond really that awful to look at?
Inside the Diamond it's reminiscent of something Arctic Monkeys may have created for the production and promotion of their album Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino. Lecture theatres are lit by strips of light running from floor to ceiling, study spaces consist of wide, round tables lit by an enormous central light built into the desk, mezzanine structures hang above open spaces, making it feel both open and claustrophobic at the same time. It's some retro tape recorders and some flashing buttons away from being a filming location from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Compared to Adsetts, the best library in Sheffield, and it's copious amount of pigeons, the Diamond's flooring layout is almost normal. At least in the Diamond the exits are on ground level, and not, like Adsetts, seemingly on every level. Maybe because the University of Sheffield is a red brick university, the Diamond is seen as the outcast, the ugly duckling, because it doesn't fit in with the red brick aesthetic. It is true that part of the historic Jessops Hospital had to be demolished to make way for the Diamond's space age interiors. Perhaps if the Diamond was a Hallam building, it would be more accepted? Or maybe it would be ridiculed further.
But then maybe I'm just a pretentious prick. Maybe I get a kick out of sitting in a chair so obnoxiously large that even Ikea would have trouble justifying it. Maybe I like the fact that I'm not studying in just another study space designed by committee. Maybe I want to beef out my Instagram. Who knows, all I know is – I love the Diamond.