The old Georgian terraced houses from 338-346 Glossop Road, which have long been left empty, are now being given a new lease of life as The Roco, a centre for local artists, designers and other creatives in the city. From the outside the Grade II listed buildings have lost none of their charm but the inside has been tailor-made to house some of Sheffield’s most innovative minds and provide a space to hone their craft and display their work.
It will be a self-contained space where creative businesses can make, display and sell their wares all under one roof. As Sheffield’s first large scale co-operative development, Roco places emphasis on inclusivity and social awareness, with all profits being put back into the local community.
With the venue looking set to be a great addition to the city’s vibrant and ever growing arts and culture sector. We caught up with Co-Founder Andrea Burns ahead of the launch to find out exactly what it’s all about.
Tell us a bit about Roco.
Roco is a creative hub on Glossop Road in the city centre. We have taken over seven Grade II listed terrace houses to transform them into a place where work and play mix. It’s a big space with a lot going on. We have ROCO Studios, which is home to our co-working and office studios, set up for creative people to mix and mingle with other businesses. The spaces are let on a membership model or long-term contract. Then there’s Assembly Mine, our maker space. We have 2000sq ft. of space kitted out with CNC, laser cutters and 3D printers for designers, creators and makers to prototype and manufacture their products and idea. This is a really exciting part of the project with huge potential to bring people together to get hands-on with tech and design based tools through workshops and meetups.
The BL_NK Gallery at Roco occupies the ground floor of 338 and 340 Glossop Road. Conceived as a blank canvas space, it will provide a home for a broad variety of projects with our program starting next spring. We also have a humanities led bookshop attached to the space to provide the brain food for the project.
We absolutely love fine food and artisanal beers so we’ve set up Flask Deli and Beer Shop to provide the people in the area with quality lunch time pick-ups in the week. For those popping in for something a bit different, we will stock lots of fantastic treats and a broad range of craft brews to indulge in.
There will also be an art and design store, ROCO retail, where we will be supporting the independent, short run and smartly thought-out products, fighting the homogenisation of the high street and championing quality and variety.
Finally, every big cultural project like this needs a bar! BROOD café bar occupies our purpose-built extension and we’ve built in a roof top terrace that will become a green oasis come spring.
Sounds jam-packed! So is everything coming together ready for the launch in November?
Every day is different, as the place seems to be morphing and changing on a daily basis. I’ve just finished the design for the bar which went into production the following day – deadlines are really tight but we have a great team to get us to launch.
Any special plans for launch day?
We’ll be celebrating our members, the people who joined our community benefit company through buying shares. These are the people who believed in the project from the start and invested their cash to get us off the ground. Party details are still under wraps but watch this space…
What are your plans for Roco going into the future?
The next step is the really exciting bit. Once we have the buildings open we can start our project work with members and the broader creative community. It’s an opportunity to pool our myriad talents and resources of our community to focus on our flagship DoGoods initiative.
We see an exciting future where creative people use their skills and imaginations to design products and services that provide a positive social impact. Sheffield has a really vibrant spirit of creativity and social awareness, and we are looking to galvanize some of the excitement and interest around social and environmental innovation to think about the positive interventions, products and services we could make that will ultimately do society and our community some good.
Interested? Head to www.theroco.org to find out more.