Cottee Parker Architects

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Design that works

Cottee Parker Architects (CPA) is a company of architects dedicated to the design of unique and elegant building solutions. They help clients ensure the most successful outcomes for their projects through effective, efficient building and workplace design, and have successfully completed hundreds of projects forprivate developers, retailers, government bodies, institutions and universities.

For Cottee Parker, success is measured by their clients achieving their commercial objectives.

CPA has been building on their expertise for more than 25 years. Matthew Caswell, a Director of the company, has been with the company for 20 years of that time, and has seen the company grow to operate throughout Queensland, Victoria,and northern New South Wales.

“When the company started, it was a single office in Brisbane run by the two founding partners,” says Matthew. “They mostly focused on housing and small commercial projects, with a small number of staff. By the time I joined in 1984, they’d grown to twelve staff, and from there we moved into retail and larger developer-led work.”

Distinctive experience

‘Design that Works’ is the catch-cry at CPA – and according to Matthew, it’s something that drive their design approach.

“We believe quite strongly in that phrase,” he says. “We follow the idea that our design has to work on multiple levels all emanating from the identified objectives of the client. After all, the client comes to us because they want to develop to make money. Helping them to do that is priority number one.”

“The design also needs to work architecturally,” he continues. “It needs to work aesthetically, it needs to work as part of the building form, and it needs to work for the end user. People are going to come to live in these buildings, to work in these buildings, to shop in these buildings – the design needs to work for them.”

When it comes to retail, for example, Matthew says it’s “all about convenience.”

“The customer needs to find the car park easily, know where the entrance is, and how to get in and out quickly. They need to not be confused by signage, wayfinding, et cetera – it doesn’t work if it’s disorienting.”

“Retail is also about maximising the greatest return from the space,” he adds.“There’s no point in having available space down the back of the centre where no one’s going to walk through. You need to make sure that pedestrian traffic reaches all the tenants equally, and to avoid creating any dead ends or dead areas for that all important customer traffic.”

“In some ways, design of retail needs to be quite simple,” he says. “But to make something appear simple is actually quite tricky. There are a lot of little things we take care of behind the scenes, things that our customers don’t need to be confronted with and we make sure just happen on their own. Examples of that would be loading requirements, garbage removal, legibility, and signage, among many other things.”

As Matthew shows, Cottee Parker Architects’ retail architecture experience is very extensive. As a result, they have developed a strong, successful history of working with private developers of local, neighbourhood, and district shopping centres. They understand the specific requirements of all major anchor tenants in this field – including Woolworths, Coles, BI-LO, IGA, ALDI, Big W and Kmart – and are currently developing a suite of major retail sites for Woolworths’ development arm.

“I’ve personally overseen the development of over 50 projects,” Matthew says. “We do a lot of work in particular for Woolworths and Coles. We’ve also done a couple ALDIs and IGAs in the past, and a number ofdifferent multiplex cinema projects.”

In the urban environment,CPA hasdesigned plans for retail and mixed use precincts in Brisbane, which includes Centro on James and Emporium. These developments have acted as catalysts for the re-invigoration of these areas, and it is expected that Waterloo Junction will be the next major precinct to become an urban retail and social hub thanks to the company’s efforts.

Industry recognised

CPA’s excellence in the retail design space has not gone unrecognised in the market. Their work on the Brookwater Woolworths, for example, recently earned them a spot as a finalist for the 2013 UDIA Queensland Retail / Commercial Award. It was also the winner in the 2013 Property Council Retail awards in the Neighbourhood Centre Design category. Brookwater Woolworths is an extensive complex with both medical centres and a full supermarket located in the heart of the Brookwater suburb of Ipswich.

“The property was the centre of the area and had quite a lot of potential,” explains Matthew. “It was one block from the Brookwater golf course, there was a possibility of hotels to be planned around it, and it could serve as the effective town centre of the suburb – where people could meet for coffee, interact with neighbours, and so on.”

“Fortunately, the Mater Hospital came on to the project and wanted to create one of their new medical centres with integrated Allied Health specialists, radiology, x-rays, pharmacies, surgery, and more. So they took the whole second floor.”

Alongside CPA, Woolworths also recognised the potential of the Brookwater area to be a strong growth suburb, and committed to a full supermarket with as much as parking as possible for the ground level. Below that, a basement was allocated for additional parking, with a second basement for loading docks not visible to the customers.

“To actually be a finalist for the UDIA and to be recognized for all that was nice,” Matthew says. “We don’t often go into these awards, but not because we don’t value the work that we do – we’re usually just busy getting ready for our next role. This was one of the few times we entered into an award, and we were very pleased to be recognized for it. It was a nice experience.”

“How will it affect our future work?” he asks. “Being recognised by our peers is great – it shows the market that our designs are relevant and contemporary and helps attract and retain great staff.But in the end, the best award for us is having our clients coming back because their last project with us was a commercial success.”

When it comes to the future, Matthew says growth continues to be an important aspiration for the company. 

“We have offices in both Brisbane and Melbourne now,” he says. “We’ve won some amazing projects in our Melbourne office, including a five star hotel and residential landmark project in Perth. Between the collaboration of the two, we’re doing work all the way up the Eastern Seaboard, with an ambition to eventually become a fully national practice.”