Nestled between two cornerstones of Sheffield nightlife, the University’s Bar One and The Harley, is a row of Grade II listed buildings, spanning 338-346 Glossop Road. In recent years this stretch of pavement has witnessed many a taxi pick-up and drunken kebab drop as night owls flutter their way between the two brightly burning beacons of drinking, but now a flurry and a spark will return to the properties themselves as Roco, a new creative co-op, moves into the row’s empty space.

“What’s a ‘creative co-op’?” we hear you mutter. Roco’s website promises seven buildings’ worth of galleries, maker spaces, studios, arts and design shops, a bookshop, a café bar and roof top gardens, all built with Sheffield’s “vibrant and unique community of creators, designers, artists and makers” in mind. Our interest piqued, we spoke to Roco’s co-founder Andrea Burns ahead of the space’s launch on 13 November.

How did the idea for Roco come about and how did you settle on the Glossop Road site?

Roco is a creative hub with social ambitions, a place where the creative industries and community interests meet, a dynamic formed in the early stages of the project through the unique partnership between myself and fellow co-founder Chris Hill.

I’ve spent the last ten years developing and mentoring creative businesses across the north of England and Chris had led the charge on some impressive large-scale projects through CIC [community interest company] and co-op models, so putting these two sets of experience together unleashed the polymath that is Roco.

Part of what we aimed to do was restore and repurpose an existing listed building to ensure its survival. It turns out on the Glossop Road site we have got seven of them.

The site covers quite a sizeable area. What can we expect to find filling the space inside?

A really vibrant mix of workspace, retail space and event space. We’ve split the build into phases and phase one, which opens in November, sees us launch BROOD Café Bar, Flask Deli and Beer Shop, Roco Studios and Co-working space, the art and design retail store, our maker space, called the Assembly Mine, and BL_ANK Space Gallery.

What kind of businesses do you see filling the studio offices?

Our focus has always been on supporting the creative industries, which is actually a really broad mix, from design to publishing, crafts to creative manufacturing. After launching the studio and co-working space, we are attracting businesses who want to be somewhere a bit different, not stuffy and corporate, but the maker space in particular is proving a big pull.

How can the public get involved with Roco?

Well, the easiest way would be to come and join us on Friday 13 November when we open. Then you could browse the shops, grab a bite and a drink in the cafe bar and, if you really like what you see, join us. We are owned by our members and you can still sign up to become part of our growing community of designers, makers and creators.  

theroco.org

Jack Scourfield