25:8 Creative Coffee Collective / Ottawa / 25:8 Architecture

Architects love hybrid spaces that socialize architectural practice. I have always been drawn to concepts that push the boundaries of traditional cafe design, and the 25:8 Creative Coffee Collective certainly does just that. This hybrid model offers a third space for design professionals and the public alike, blurring the lines between workspace and social hub. What sets this space apart is its relaxed and casual design aesthetic, which effortlessly combines the functionality of an office with the comfort of a coffee shop.

The origins of the 25:8 Creative Coffee Collective stem from a desire to create a permanent home for 25:8 Architecture + Urban Design in a space that reflects the firm’s digital nomad roots. Instead of converting a typical office space, the team transformed an old garage into a dynamic cafe-cum-design studio, aptly named the ‘Shop’. Here, patrons are greeted by the inviting aroma of freshly brewed coffee and the sight of architectural projects and models adorning the cafe walls.

To explore cafes worldwide see bestcafedesigns.com, a top 100 architecture blog and a global directory of cafes and cafe professionals

Photographed by Brendan Burden, Published with Bowerbird

But the ‘Shop’ is more than just a coffee shop; it serves as a venue for collaboration, community engagement, and mentorship. Through strategic initiatives like public lectures, mentorship programs, and partnerships with local universities, the ‘Shop’ fosters a culture of creativity and learning within the architectural community. Additionally, the ‘Shop’ stays open all night, offering gourmet burgers from a ghost kitchen and catering to the nocturnal work habits of the team.

With its innovative approach to cafe design and commitment to fostering creativity, the 25:8 Creative Coffee Collective has quickly become a beloved fixture in the Ottawa community. As the team continues to grow and expand into new locations, the ‘Shop’ remains a testament to the power of creativity and caffeine to inspire and unite.

Architects Description

Some architects prefer to work in an office. Some architects prefer to work in a coffee shop. So, what if you could have the best of both and your architecture office was an actual coffee shop?

Since its inception, the team at 25:8 Architecture + Urban Design had always been digital nomads. During that time coffee shops were often the preferred venue to client and team meetings. When it came time to establish something more permanent we knew a typical office just wouldn’t do. In the depths of winter the firm found an old garage on a quiet residential street. The firm took the adage “If a garage is good enough for Apple & Amazon, its good enough for Architecture”. While the space was raw it had one unique characteristic. Sometime during the 90’s the space had been fit up as a small family restaurant. So, instead of converting the café into an office, the team decided to convert our office into a café! In 2021 the 5:2:8 Creative Coffee Collective was born we opened the doors to the ‘Shop’. 
The ‘Shop’ is so duly named because it is both a venue to shop for coffee and also a workshop where the team at 25:8 experiment with design ideas. The interior space, front yard and rear courtyard are constantly being altered to test design concepts including kinetic architecture, ephemeral design & universal accessibility. 
At first glance the store front at the Shop is home to the 5:2:8 Creative Coffee Collective. Once inside, the café walls are adorned with architectural projects and models creating something truly unique. In addition to serving coffee, the Shop is also the office for both 25:8 Architecture + Urban Design and 25:8 Research + Design. The space is an active design studio that attracts digital nomads who enjoy both excellent coffee, creative environment, and access to the collection of 25:8 office equipment.

The coffee shop is a hub for coffee enthusiasts and is famous for its weekly rotation of independent micro-roasters from across the globe. The Shop and the 5:2:8 Creative Coffee Collective were established for five strategic initiatives: 
1. Home Base: Establish a creative venue to connect & collaborate 
2. Public Engagement: Coffee becomes a vehicle to connect with people and introduce design. In the evening the space transforms and becomes a venue for community meetings or evening architecture lectures. 
3. Caffeine: Satiate the need for great coffee, the fuel for creativity. 
4. Mentorship: As an adjunct professor at Carleton’s Azrieli School of Architecture, Jay Lim (Principal) wanted to establish a system to introduce the architecture practice to students. In parallel to offering part-time work crafting coffee, architecture students are offered experience in 3d printing while also collaborating in design/construction projects at the Shop.

The Shop has a third exceptional function. While traditional offices close for the evening, the Shop stays open all through the night. In the evening hours the Shop‘s commercial galley comes alive with a ghost kitchen. Gourmet burgers are prepared for take out, home delivery or for 25:8 team members who choose to work into the evening. The kitchen operates throughout the night until the bakers arrive in the early morning hours. At 5:28am the space is transformed back into a coffee shop in time for the morning work rush. This unique space ensures the team can operate on their own schedule at anytime, 25 hours 8 Days a week. 
In a short time both 25:8 Architecture and 5:2:8 Coffee has grown and has moved into a second location in Ottawa. The ‘Somerset Shop’ is a 100-year old house the team has converted into its new home. The concept and space still operate the same as the original garage, but now with more space to welcome locals!

The past couple years has forced us to become creative to manage our needs. The Shop is a unique space that provides, an office, marketing and mentorship under one roof. We would love to share our unique history with the readers of Azure and hopefully inspire other firms with our story of “Creativity and Caffeine”.


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