A tour of Pitzy Folks' new Windsor office

Late last year Urban Melbourne was invited for a tour of the new offices of CAPI in Windsor and a chat with its founder Pitzy Folk. The 1930’s building now known as '151 Albert' had previously housed Telstra and has been refurbished by renowned interior designer and family friend of the Folk family, Tamsin Johnson into 1,400 sqm of office and break out space across two floors and a basement.

The open plan workspaces on the first floor. Image: Earl Carter

Pitzy Folk moved to Australia from his native Austria in 1973 and has gone on to own a number of successful businesses, including Map Coffee in 2002, which was acquired a short 12 years later by global conglomerate, Tata.

In 2010, having accumulated over 40 years of experience in hospitality, Pitzy identified the need for a clean, naturally carbonated refreshment that used only premium ingredients and mineral water that was locally sourced.

So to he founded CAPI, a proudly Australian mineral water brand made in Kyneton, Victoria. 

In addition to CAPI, Pitzy has invested in start-ups throughout his career (under the banner of Folk Investments) and the new building will also serve as an incubator hub for the businesses he is involved with.

The companies co located at 151 Albert will have access to shared services including in-house accountants and lawyers. Pitzy’s vision was for a building that would connect and facilitate shared knowledge, experience and expertise between all of the businesses under the one roof.

This will allow for opportunities to provide additional support, mentoring and advisory that would otherwise not available to other start ups.

The move to a new office was largely necessitated due to the State Government's acquisition of his former office at 2-4 Buckhurst Street which was mooted for a new park as part of the Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Area. At one stage Folk proposed a two tower apartment building designed JCB, but the site will now make way for the Montague Community Park which is being built directly opposite the new Primary School on Ferrars Street. 

CAPI offices in South Melbourne to become parkland. Images: JCB Architects & City of Port Phillip

Folk says he knew from the moment he first saw the building and space that 

I have been investing in start-ups for many years and I plan to invite a select few to join us at 151 Albert. I’ve kept an entire level free for these businesses, and they will set up desks and enjoy the communal kitchen and special spaces we offer.

Importantly they will also have access to our shared services including in-house accountants and lawyers, and our go-to graphic designers which is an amazing opportunity for any new business to have on hand.

This will add an extra layer of support, mentoring and advisory otherwise not available to start ups.

I've always believed that if you decide to do something then you do it properly - don't do anything by the half measure.

- Pitzy Folk

Tamsin's brief was to transform the three-level building into a primarily open plan workspace supported by a series of smaller offices and meeting rooms along the perimeter walls.

Tamsin has retained the original red brick fabric of the building and spent months removing the more recent additions and alterations to reveal the layered history of the building including generous 4.5m ceilings and refurbished original steel frame windows while employing a calming neutral palette of materials and finishes which celebrate the character of the building. 

The ground floor has retained the raw finishes of the building's past such as hard plaster and eroded paint stripped back and polished up to become features of the space. These which has been complemented by an open reception space with linen lounges and concrete reception desk with art-clad walls. 

The rawness of the building's fabric has become a feature of the new spaces. Image: Earl Carter

The first floor by contrast, is finished with timber floorboards, freshly painted white walls, USM office furniture and European task lighting with feature handmade sculptural wall lights. An open kitchen creates a hub for communal dining for all the workers in the building, encouraging conversation, collaboration and the exchange of ideas. 

The finishing touches were being applied to a bar and lounge area in the basement, which will be named ‘The Albert’. This space will be used by the businesses within 151 Albert, but will also become an invite only space to hold innovative and progressive events.

The design for the space features a blue-and-white-washed Mediterranean underground-style bar with a linen-clad room that can be used for meetings, meditation and other small, intimate events.

Pitzy says he couldn't be any happier with the result and working with Tamsin on the realisation of his vision for the space, and it comes across in the joy in his voice when speaking about the project and the process behind it. Would he do it all again? Pitzy's answer was a resounding yes!

Black steel is interspersed amongst the clean white walls, providing a visual contrast. Image: Earl Carter

Lead Image: Pitzy Folk taken by Josh Robenstone

Development & Planning

Friday, February 23, 2018 - 00:00
Further change to Chapel Street's streetscape could be on the way should a new development application lodged with Stonnington City council from joint venture proponents Franzé developments and Sampieri Group gain approval. Located across addresses 430-438 Chapel Street and adjacent to the Temperance Hotel, Franzé and Sampieri have proposed a 7 level mixed-use building that would see retail, commercial/office and residential spaces.

Policy, Culture & Opinion

Friday, February 2, 2018 - 00:00
Gamuda Land is set to unveil an impressive collection of artwork for the soon to be completed 661 Chapel St development in South Yarra. Andy Dinan, Director of Mars Gallery which is renowned for exhibiting and promoting contemporary Australian artists, has been invited to specially curate the art collection throughout the development; included will be some of Australia’s most collected artists.

Visual Melbourne

Monday, February 5, 2018 - 12:00
The various spaces and elements which combine to form RMIT's New Academic Street (NAS) have progressively begun to open to students and visitors alike. I was recently fortunate enough to be part of an informal group tour through the completed spaces within NAS, led by Harrison and White which had a hand in the project.

Transport & Design

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 - 07:01
As part of its $88 million redevelopment, the State Library of Victoria (SLV) is providing Victorian apprentices, trainees and cadets with the opportunity to help with its transformation as part of its Vision 2020. The expansive project will create additional space for public use, restore and reopen the Ian Potter Queen’s Hall, and reinstate the historic Russell Street entrance.

Sustainability & Environment

Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 12:00
One of the world’s more unique International design competitions - The Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) 2018 - has come to Melbourne. Sponsored by the State Government of Victoria, the competition opened in early January but was officially launched on Saturday, Feb 10 th as part of the Sustainable Living Festival, Melbourne.