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Mechanic’s workshop turned co-working space in Christchurch

With original mechanic’s hoist still intact, Coll Architecture and F3 Design team up to make a co-working space for creatives in Christchurch.

Mechanic’s workshop turned co-working space in Christchurch

Christchurch, in spite of its earthquakes, is slowly finding its creative heart. Among its talent is Coll Architecture and F3 Design which share a new office in Walker Street.

While architect Mitchell Coll, director of Coll Architecture, has his own space in what was formerly a mechanic’s workshop built in the 1960s, so does Pippin Wright-Stow, who is at the helm of F3 Design (Wright-Stow has a background in art and sculpture).

“We were looking for a new office to share and thought this space was ideal, even though it was considerably larger than we were looking for,” says Coll, pointing out the 400-square-metre space.

Given the size, the duo decided to create a co-working space, where other creatives could use the building, sharing the facilities that include a meeting area, a boardroom, together with kitchen and bathroom facilities.

With both directors firmly committed to sustainability, recycling rather than replacing, the pitched roofed and concrete-block walled building was touched lightly. The concrete walls remain as do the concrete floors. Even the original mechanic’s hoist was left intact.

Used as a desk to meet clients or colleagues, this hoist can still be manoeuvred up or down to suit one’s seating choice. Other structures, such as the container positioned to the rear of the office, was craned in to provide a more private meeting area.

Lined with faux turf, it’s also a space designed for acoustic control.

Rather than create a series of plaster-walled partitions to provide separate offices for those wanting to lease space, Coll Architecture and F3 Design constructed a series of fine skeletal aluminium structures (seven in all), that loosely reference a detached house, to create individual offices. Coll and his team occupy a couple of these structures and Wright-Stow another.

“We arranged them in a fairly random fashion. The idea was to evoke the cars that would have originally occupied this space, waiting to be seen by a mechanic,” says Wright-Stow.

Other features of the mechanic’s workshop, such as a pit in the floor once used to check brake rollers, has been thoughtfully filled in with rocks and plants to create a slither of an indoor garden.

This fit-out also features numerous steel drums, still in their original paint colours, such as a deep red tone.

Some of these drums have been converted into lockers, while others have been stacked to create a platform as both a hanging garden and also a feature wall that separates the work areas from the amenities.

“We were continually on the lookout for discarded steel drums. The mechanic over the road put out three every week for anyone to take,” says Coll, who, like Wright-Stow, enjoys experimenting with the more playful side of design.

These drums have been reworked to form tables, benches and whatever seemed to be needed, such as lighting shades for the container-style meeting area.

Since opening its doors, a number of creatives have enjoyed using this co-working environment: businesses selling architectural products to individual creatives simply looking for an environment that’s stimulating and enjoyable to be.

“Dogs are certainly welcome,” says Coll, whose dog Foster enjoys spreading out on the faux turf as though he was in the backyard at home.

Coll Architecture

F3 Design

Mick Stephenson

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