Collingwood is only on the other side of Smith Street from Fitzroy, but the two suburbs feel quite different. Where Fitzroy is mostly quaint terrace houses, Collingwood has long been a hub for light industry – mechanics, sheet-metal fabricators, commercial drycleaners and the like. Gradually, though, these businesses are moving out and their spacious tenancies are being put to new uses.
Converted warehouses now hold coffee roasters such as Proud Mary and Acoffee; bars including Rupert on Rupert and Stomping Ground; and retailers such as Chappelli Cycles and Lululemon. As in most parts of inner Melbourne, developers have turned many other sites into apartment blocks.
This hasn’t changed things too much – yet. Schoolhouse Studios, a collective of 90-plus artists in another warehouse on Rupert Street, is upholding Collingwood’s freewheeling, alternative spirit. Ditto for Backwoods Gallery on Easey Street, which works mainly with local street artists.