A REFLECTION ON WORKING AT CATHI COLLA ARCHITECTS
WORKING AT CCA
My entry as an architectural student and exit as a graduate serve as fitting bookends to a two-and-a-half-year period at Cathi Colla Architects. Working with Cathi and our team has been filled with more opportunity and delight than you could poke a scale ruler at.
From the outset, I have been granted the responsibility to carve my own path and contribute to a host of ideas and strategies beyond the scope of project work. I could not be more grateful.
SMALL PRACTICE PROVIDING OPPORTUNITY
Working in small practice is a blessing.
Architects often wear many hats, however I think those in small practice wear the most. I am an architectural designer/ project manager/ business strategist/ illustrator/ website designer/ draftsperson/ contract administrator/ negotiator/ marketing strategist/ writer. And I would argue that the other three powerful women in our team are all these, and more.
We all work part-time – occupied by enchanting and stimulating lives beyond the 9-to-5.
We are women. We communicate. We empathise. We make it work.
It’s impossible not to become invested in the studio – emotionally that is, not financially. Architecture itself is a passion, but the business of architecture is a different page in that book. As a team we strategize, plan and conceptualise the future of what we would like to achieve for our clients, for ourselves, and for the impact we can make on this planet.
ACCOUNTABILITY AND WISDOM
In our small team it is hard not to avoid scrutiny. You are accountable for everything you do. You are expected to be rigorous and driven with your work. For example, it has only taken me two years to get a window detail past Cathi on the first pass without need for revision. That said, we all make mistakes, and those mistakes are treated with kindness, honesty, and reflection on how to improve in the future.
Free from the corporate stranglehold of large practice, the benefits of small practice exchanges penny-pinching project managers for impassioned families and individuals. We care about our clients, and for our clients. It is empowering to be working on purposeful projects that are destined to transform each client’s quality of life.
AUTHENTICITY AND CREATIVITY
Tired of dark, dingy and dysfunctional spaces, the clients I have been fortunate to work with are often chasing the New Australian Dream – seeking natural light, energy efficiency, good-quality construction and attention to their needs.
Working within a modest budget has taught me lessons in restraint, being thrifty with materials, and in maximising functionality without compromising on beauty and joy.
Beyond informing my design skills and construction knowledge, working at CCA has taught me how a practice should be run, and the type of leader I can be. I look up to the women I work with, with the utmost respect, and I will forever cherish these relationships and the lessons I have learnt. I’ll also miss the warm chin of Pepper the Labrador sitting on my lap as I type. And of course, the smell of sweet pastry in the morning.
Amarinda, it has been fantastic having you work with us on multiple projects. You have been an amazing contributor to our team, our culture, and to our future. Thank you, we wish you well in your future. Your next adventure overseas will be amazing.