Business ventures usually begin with an idea, before an appropriate space is found to execute it. In the case of new co-working initiative Mâché, the space came first.
Daniels Langeberg was in need of extra room for his EcoCaddy pedicab enterprise, just off Whitmore Square, when his landlord offered the building next door. Long-term tenants Radio Televisione Italiana had recently vacated and the space was awaiting demolition.
“The place was a heap,” Langeberg says. “Our inspection phase was basically, ‘What have we got? Can we do something with it?’ and we found floorboards and solid walls and a really cool recording studio that has a lot of history.”
Before Radio Televisione Italiana, Fresh FM had its start there. Under Mâché, music agency Sounds Out of Hours will co-manage the studio.
The new digs will also house an artist studio, a photography studio, an open workspace, and the EcoCaddy office and workshop.
“It wasn’t until we started to design the space that we realised its amazing assets,” Langeberg says. “There’s a weird room out the back that’s light-tight and termite-ridden and salt damp-ridden... We thought, how do we turn this space around and not blow our entire budget? I figured, if it’s light-tight we could turn it into a photography studio.”
Langeberg is joined by collaborators Erick Watson and Peter Ayres, who have combined experience in urban planning, design and architecture. The team has spatially designed the area to foster “collisions” of creativity.
“It’s all about collaboration,” Langeberg says. “You can’t force things, but what you can do is harbour all the right elements to improve the probability of it happening.”
One of these elements is the addition of glass doors between each space, to ensure co-workers aren’t shut off from one another. “Even if you’re not involved you’re visually connected.”
Despite the work going into Mâché’s renovations, Langeberg and co. will be expected to vacate after 12 months. But despite the ephemeral nature of the space, they are determined to produce results.
“Space is the critical element,” says Langeberg. “And it’s the hardest thing to get. The next thing is proving that it works. So if we can knock one of those off, then we’re already winning. The constraint is 12 months, but that’s actually huge when you have festivals that are only around for a week.”
You might see 178 Wright Street as the balloon in a paper mâché creation, he says, when quizzed about the business name. “We’re forming these layers and one day the building gets demolished and we have to pop the balloon. But the idea is still there.”
Mâché opens on August 5. To register interest in a co-working space, check out the options on the website.