City Collective would like to welcome all of its friends, partners, collaborators and clients – both past and present – to join us at the end of November for the official unveiling of our new studio space on Pirie Street and the launch of ‘City Chats’ – an urban design speakeasy that will bring together likeminded people to hear from and ask questions of city leaders and influencers.
You can RSVP for the first City Chats session by sending your name and the names of your interested parties to firstname.lastname@example.org
Read on for a Q&A with City Collective founder, David Cooke about the fun and less fun moments you encounter when you become your own client.
You’ve moved offices in Adelaide but not very far – was it important to stay in the Epworth Building?
As the studio grew, we explored many city locations and were offered a few deals, but ultimately we all loved the charm of the Epworth Building, the fact we can open the windows, despite the odd fly (and even once a bee!) coming in, the timber floors and heritage detailing and – of course – the strong room, which is now an excellent material library.
The new office has a close connection to the street, you can hear the city life, smell the pizza cooking in the wood oven below and feel like you’re perched up the Gleditsia tree in front of the City of Adelaide customer service centre.
It’s a big jump in square meterage – what are the plans for this new, bigger, space?
It was a big jump – we doubled in size. We had a vision for this space the first time we walked through it. We shared this vision with building owners, Econ Property Group and convinced them to demolish walls to open up the space, install new ceilings and services. They were great! We promised in return to provide them with a ‘show studio space’ for the building. A space that is contemporary yet celebrates Epworth’s historic features.
There’s a joke about plumbers with leaky taps… It’s hard to be your own client sometimes, especially as an architect. How’d you find the build process and budget?
There were challenging moments, and the light at the end of the tunnel sometimes felt a long way away. As a team we all compromised working in and around trades some days. We found some great local contractors and suppliers who worked with us to find solutions to tricky problems. People we will certainly work with again on future projects.
We exceeded our initial budget, which was ambitious to begin with and – due to influx of project work – the program was also stretched. However, the most important thing is we didn’t comprise and we are all enjoying working in the space and cracking a beer from the fridge on Friday. The process was all worth it!
Did any constraints lead to innovative solutions?
As a studio we don’t like being told ‘no’ often, so when that occurs we do get a bit innovative. We really wanted black cable trays to set off against the white and natural timber aesthetic. After initially being told no, we worked on a different design solution and collaborated with some flexible contractors to still deliver the design vision.
What’s your favourite “moment” within the new space? A particular detail? A funny heritage hangover?
We all love the pressed metal splash back. This was another ‘no’ moment along the journey, but we worked to source the pattern most appropriate to the heritage character of Epworth and then we powder-coated the material ourselves and – as a team – cut, measured and stuck it into place. It has come up really well and it was half the price to do it that way than the initial quote and we think the finished result sets the space off well. You will have to come in and see for yourself!