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People Power

Mitchell Coll is putting his money where his mouth is. Using his creative prowess, the architectural designer is doing his part to bring people back to Christchurch's inner city.

Young, creative and passionate about the future of Christchurch, Mitchell has designed and is in the process of building a set of two bedroom apartments on Madras Street, using his own capital.

Mitchell says the momentum which is building in the city prompted him to make his own move.

"There is a change happening in the city at present. There is a real impetus, now that retail, hospitality and business projects are complete or close to opening. I see this as an opportunity to make residential projects in the city a focus with the ultimate goal of bringing the people and life back. My team and I are working on a few projects for developers, but I really wanted to do my own development. That is what the project on Madras Street is all about," says Mitchell.

Much of the residential success stories in the city so far have been high-end one-million dollar plus homes that suit empty nesters or retirees. There has also been a recent influx of smaller two bed units or apartment blocks looking to attract the young professional market wanting an inner city pad.

Mitchell says the demand from these two demographics is good and he feels confident that his project is a calculated risk.

"For me the biggest concern is that I don’t want to build another generic apartment complex. There is a real fear from some developers and designers of building something that won't be liked by everyone. I'm all about taking a risk - if only 10% of people that see it love it - that's ok by me. My Madras Street project is brutalist architecture using rusted steel, honest materials and timber. It won't be to everyone's taste, but that doesn't matter. I think developers and designers working in Christchurch need to be brave and find a balance between good design and affordability."

So how does a developer in Christchurch make a project stack up financially without compromising on design? Mitchell says it isn't always easy but there are simple things that can be done to bring down the budget to make room for those extra design details.

"When I was growing up bedrooms always had one drop light in the centre of the room. Now days, you see homes with multiple, unnecessary down lights. It's as simple as cutting the building down to its basic. You can be honest and simple and still make it nice."

For more information on Mitchell Coll and Coll Architecture visit: