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Could the High Street Go Beyond Commercial Interest to Become a Place of Diverse Social Exchange?

26 Jul 2022


Studio Polpo, 2021



The high street has a crucial role to play in the UK’s towns and cities, beyond shopping and consumption. The High Street of Exchanges invites you to imagine the high street as an infrastructure of mutuality, care and civic action. An ATM draws attention to non-commercial transactions already present, whilst fragments of high streets in Sheffield – a hairdressers, a library, a pay-as-you-feel café – offer insights into social activities and interactions that exist beyond the commercial. These exchanges form the starting point for a series of spatial propositions for community-led developments within high streets across the UK.


Studio Polpo is a social enterprise architecture collective based in Sheffield. Its work is undertaken through exchanges with others, including people from different and diverse disciplines and backgrounds, an approach that can lead to more critical, situated and responsive architecture. Collaborative practices allow the studio to address wider issues relating to spatial, social and ecological justice. It is connected to activist, community and cultural projects, and works with them to co-construct questions, themes, and sites for action.

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