Residential Development - Planning and Design, Sheil Park, Liverpool, 2004

Research project: archive images and original photographs of Sheil Park by Marcus Coates

Sheil Park is a housing development in Liverpool. Built in 2004, it was designed to re-house the residents of the condemned residential tower blocks that once stood on this site.

This research sets out to trace the cultural ideas and images that inspired the planning and design of this new housing development.

Amongst some of the more obvious influences are the rituals and artistry of the indigenous cultures of Native American and First Nations peoples, particularly the Dakota (Santee and Yankton-Yanktonai), Lakota, Navajo, Cherokee and Paiute.

Dakota women’s knife with bead-embroidered sheath and Facade brick pattern

Mono Lake Paiute coiled basket and Garden pavement designs

Dakota beaded snake shaped pouch, contains and preserves a baby’s umbilical cord and Sheil Park street layout

The layout of the estate is centred around a shaped road which resembles the winding curve of the snake symbol. The snake is an important mythical animal to Native American people. For many, the shedding skin represents life, death and rebirth.

Woven belt with geometric design and Decorative brickwork

Burial scaffolds and Architectural construction

The purpose of this architectural construction is unknown. However, it is very similar structurally and in scale to a Dakota burial scaffold. These scaffolds are traditionally 7 to 8 feet high, 10 feet long, and 4 or 5 feet wide. Posts are set firmly in the ground, on which is made a flooring of small poles. The dead body is then carefully wrapped and laid to rest on the platform.

Cherokee basket weave and Brick paving design

An open paved space on the outskirts of the development has within it a single vertical pole. The Sun Dance rituals of the Dakota and Lakota are one of the most important events of their year, when many people come together for dancing, singing and other rituals. Some choose to inflict great pain upon themselves by piercing their chest muscles with pegs which are attached by lengths of rope or sinew to the top of a pole against which they pull or hang.