Making ROCO

Year | 2014
Location | Sheffield, UK
Client | ROCO creative co-op, through Andrea Burns

The ROCO is a creative co-op to be opened in central Sheffield during 2015. Seven listed buildings along Glossop Road have been taken over and are to be transformed into studios, gallery and retail spaces. A one-story building comprising of a bar and café will be built behind these existing listed properties.

The client, ROCO co-founder Andrea Burns, has asked us to develop a temporary structure for the roof with the aim to act as a shelter from weather and views, and create character. We have also been asked to design a chicken coop for the rooftop, as she hopes to keep chickens there in the future.

The client had a strong wish that our designs would be available as open source material, complete with files and instructions for anybody to download from ROCO’s website. Making it possible to build and share build their own versions.

Through close collaboration with our client we were able to conduct productive weekly meetings, enabling us to progress and effectively document the design process.

From the outset we identified key characteristics for our intervention, working towards a structure that was foldable, temporary and customizable. Throughout the project the group found several ways to expand the initial brief in relevant ways. In addition to our design development, we worked on the spatial layouts for the entire rooftop and wider street. To ensure our vision was suitable for their future users, we participated in a public event at ROCO, asking visitors their opinions and wishes for a rooftop. This opportunity also allowed us to gage how people perceived open source design in general.

Research into the history of the ROCO buildings revealed a rich past which we were able to incorporate into the customizable panels of the roof structure.

Another development of the initial brief was that we identified Hounsfield Lane, directly behind the new bar/café building, as an essential part of ROCO’s future potential. We have provided the client with plans that she can use straight away to revitalize the street, but also with an aspirational plan she can take to Sheffield City Council with the overall ambition to pedestrianise the street.

The group has been democratic throughout, with every member fully involved in meetings and the design process. To follow up what’s happening with ROCO and download the chicken coop (available from March 2015), please visit