About Us

Studio Polpo is a Sheffield-based social enterprise architecture practice.

We use situated and collaborative approaches to create objects, structures, initiatives and research-led resources that enable transformative social change. Projects by Studio Polpo are underpinned by a genuine desire to work towards social, environmental and economic justice. To this end we self-initiate projects to support diverse economies of participation and exchange through spatial intervention. We have facilitated the collective ownership and/or management of a number of buildings and programmes, including helping to save a grade 2* listed cutlery factory though community shares, running an experimental cultural space, designing co-housing and supporting community-led housing.

Why are we a social enterprise?

We are constituted as a social enterprise to support our ethical values and spatial justice aims. We use any profit we generate to help organisations get projects off the ground and start initiatives that we believe will benefit the city. Current examples include feasibility studies for ROAR in Rotherham, and the Sheffield CLT. Studio Polpo was the first architecture practice to consitute as a social enterprise in the UK.

What do we do?

We Design & Make. We work at scales from fixings and furniture, to new buildings and the refurbishment of old or existing structures. Our architectural expertise informs our approach to smaller artist-led projects, and our involvement in making, testing and building at smaller scale informs the detailed thinking on larger projects.

We Research. We test, play and experiment with materials, working with fabricators, suppliers and our colleagues at Chopshop CNC to inform our designs. We also investigate, analyse and collate information for dissemination to our clients and the wider public to facilitate positive change, for example in our work for Portland Works.

We write. This helps us to reflect on and learn from what we have done, as well as sharing & discussing this with others, and we have written and spoken in a number of places both academic and non-academic. Publications by Studio Polpo can be found here. Directors of Studio Polpo have affiliations with a number of academic institutions including The University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University, University of Huddersfield and University for the Creative Arts.

Who do we work with?

We work with a range of organisations and individuals from artists, to social housing providers and the NHS. Most of our work is undertaken in collaboration with others, and we believe that engaging with people from different disciplines and backgrounds makes our work more interesting.