Member Spotlight: Collaborative Architecture

Learn how these Kitchener-Waterloo Workhaus members are positively impacting the environment through sustainable design as they strive towards “Architecture for a Healthy Planet”

Member Spotlight

Tell us all about what you do.

At Collaborative Architecture we focus on sustainable architecture, with an emphasis on affordable low carbon design. What is low carbon design? The Climate crisis is driven by carbon emissions primarily from the burning and using of fossil fuels, much of which are associated with the construction, renovation, and operation of our buildings. In addition to targeting low energy standards such as NetZero, Passive House, and Zero Carbon, we also view all design decisions through the lens of Carbon-as-Currency. 

We put our core values of Collaboration and Respect into practice every day and on every project. Our tagline ‘Architecture for a Healthy Planet’ ™ says it all as we move towards a low carbon economy.  

Our mission is to help create 1,000 new low carbon homes in various forms of housing and shelters by 2030. We strive to provide architectural services in a socially responsible manner in order to help our clients contribute to a greener future; while simultaneously being affordable and benefiting from the savings that low-carbon prefabrication inherently offers. 

Who is your ideal customer? What problem does your company help them solve? 

Most architectural firms would say that their ideal client is one with no budget. That is NOT our ideal as we seek to create affordable solutions to the climate crisis. Our answer lies in the commonality between our customers. 

Our clients come from a broad variety of backgrounds; from homeowners to not-for-profit organizations, institutional organizations, private developers focused on sustainable construction, and business owners. They might seem intrinsically different however the common thread among all of our clients is a passion for sustainable design. In that way our ideal customer becomes the solution that Collaborative Architecture Inc. helps to solve. We help navigate the complex construction world while also prioritizing the environment in the process. The shared enthusiasm helps us focus on green design in an effort to make our contribution to new buildings in Ontario more environmentally friendly. 

Share something that you’re excited about (feature upgrades, new hires, a big deal landed, recent investments, etc.)! 

We are always excited by sustainable projects in any scale however, it is always an honour to make a larger impact. 

Two of our largest projects are a series of apartments designed to be affordable rental units in the town of Huntsville. This means a lot to us as a firm, since architecture is typically a privileged service provided to those who can afford it. Just because a person does not own their home does not mean that they do not deserve beautiful architecture or sustainability. Therefore, getting to design below market value rental units is a great honour. We are additionally grateful since we get to provide both the former features within the same project. The apartments will also be low carbon, which yet again becomes incredibly meaningful on such considerable projects. Since one of our main goals is to make 1000 new low carbon housing by 2030, we are putting in

the effort now. This will show other larger housing complexes that low carbon is not only achievable, but worth it! 

Tell us about a challenge that your business faced and what steps you took to overcome it. 

During the pandemic our team really felt the strains of isolation. In our architecture firm, so much of our work is focused on collaboration with our clients, but also between each other.  

To keep that connected feeling even when we were physically apart, we established weekly meetings to keep in touch virtually. We had staff meetings on Mondays, to review where projects were at and priorities for the week. On Wednesday we had coffee breaks just to say ‘hi, hang in there! I’m here if you need me!’. Finally, a check-in on Friday for ‘Tapping’.  What’s tapping? You’ll need to reach out to us if you want to find out. 

Now that the restrictions are lifted, we still have our weekly check-ins on Mondays, and

tapping on Friday. We have adopted a hybrid workflow, where we have flexibility to work from-home and in the office, and still connect with all our colleagues online. It lets each employee find the balance that works well for them personally and professionally.

In this way we have found that we are happier, healthier, and more productive in our work. We took the challenge that many small businesses faced and came out the other side even stronger. 

What attracted you to join Workhaus?

What we learned from the mandatory work-from-home scenario from a couple of years ago is that our team did not necessarily need to be centralized in Toronto. We saw the opportunity of increasing the area we service, and we took it. It meant that we got to keep our amazing team members, regardless of where they lived.  

Workhaus provides a great place for our team in Kitchener to have a place where they can work, collaborate,attend clients, and grow our network of likeminded individuals who want to create a beautiful and sustainable community.