Christchurch agency Plato Creative finally lays down its roots

Since the 2011 earthquake, Christchurch agency Plato Creative has moved six times into temporary spaces, doing its best to allow its creatives to thrive. But now, it’s opening the doors to its new home and the largest creative space in the South Island. 

“The main thing we wanted to create was an open plan area where different specialists across brand and digital strategy could collaborate and work effectively in one big area,” co-owner John Plato says.

The top floor is an open-plan area to encourage the team to work together and are also for meetings with clients. Below those rooms are quieter “think rooms” for people to work and concentrate when they need time away. There is also a theatre room with stadium seating for training seminars and presentations.

The team moved in on 1 July but the new 63 Manchester Street building is officially opening tomorrow.

In total, the new space is 700 square meters, which makes a nice change from the previous 200 square meter temporary spaces Plato Creative has called home since the earthquake.

In the last five years, the agency has moved six times, which Plato says was “frustrating” but the wait has been worth it. He describes the temporary spaces as cramped, whereas now people can get lost because there is so much space.

“It’s a big change to morale and we’ve seen a massive uplift in productivity and client engagement too with them coming into the office so it’s fantastic.”

The space is a joint venture with Canterbury Property Investments (CPI) and sits on the edge of the city’s innovation precinct. To make it something special, Plato says a lot of research was undertaken on creative spaces internationally and the end result is not like anything else in New Zealand.

He describes the style as “rough and ready”, with everything at different angles and no polished floors or square offices.

“We’re a creative business so we didn’t want it to look like a polished law firm or something like that so we’ve don’t things a bit unique,” he says.

Not only has the new space seen benefits for the agency, its investment in the multi-million dollar building signals Plato’s commitment to Christchurch both financially and as a visible part of the rebuild.

“Instead of leasing short term, we’ve built this thing and made a commitment… I guess it’s saying we’ve laid down roots here and we have no intention of moving.”

He adds one of the driving forces behind the venture was to attract and retain talent. While Plato Creative is currently a team of 37, the space has the potential to hold more than 60 people and Plato says he wants talent coming to the city to have the agency at their front of mind.

“Christchurch is an exciting city and it’s getting over the impacts of the quake and there is a lot of new builds and a lot of new people coming to the city, he says. “What we wanted to do was be able to go out there and confidently say we’ve got the biggest creative space in the South Island and it’s an awesome place to work and it’s unlike anything else.”

The building was designed by Christchurch commercial interior design agency Element 17 and built by Miles Construction. In the 18 months since planning started, Plato says there was a lot of work done under the ground to make sure the building won’t move should there be anymore earthquakes.

“This is our home for good, and we are looking forward to being in the central city and sitting alongside some really exciting developments in the new innovation precinct.”

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