It’s been one year since we established ourselves at the Funkhaus location. We talk to Facilities Lead Nathaniel Suter about the expansion plans for our growing learning centre in Berlin.
Think of our school as one giant, buzzing, creative consciousness. Year on year, month by month, day by day, student by student, we balloon with new knowledge, experiences, and ideas. Ever-expanding into a future of limitless possibilities, there’s absolutely no going back. Time to grow our facilities to match!
It’s only been a year since the move to our incredible Funkhaus location and, like some kind of sentient kombucha scoby, we just haven’t stopped growing. The time has come to further expand our facilities; not only opening up the physical space and giving everything a lick of paint, but providing even more cutting-edge, purpose-built equipment to meet the school’s creative needs.
In charge of the whole expansion is Facilities Lead Nathaniel Suter. With the work about to commence, we caught up with the tech whizz and unlikely plant lover to find out all the ways he’s going to make our dreams come true.
“Building an even stronger feeling of community; that is something we are really striving for.”
Hi Nathaniel, how are you?
I’m great. The sun is shining again, and with everything that’s happening here time seems to be flying!
First of all, we’d love to know more about you. Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Catalyst.
Well that could be a long story but I’ll keep it short! I’m a Canadian transplant. I spent my childhood in the wilderness of northern British Columbia, and my college years on the west coast learning about audio engineering and music. I sort of went from a place with no electricity to surrounding myself with things that only work with electricity. My own music production brought me to Berlin and then a bit later to Catalyst. I’ve gone from the role of technician to leading our technical team across both film and music. If you physically interact with anything here at the school, the tech team or myself has probably had something to do with it.
From Catalyst’s very beginnings, to the move to the Funkhaus around a year ago, to now, how have the school’s facilities evolved over time?
I can’t speak to the very beginnings because I wasn’t here during that period, however if we look back at the building we used to be in and the one we are in now, the differences are incredible. We’ve gained a facility through last year’s move that offers more than just world class and historical recording studios. It’s full of light, there are plants growing, we have a film studio, a corridor that seems to stretch forever and some really inspiring locations all around us. All of these things have culminated in building an even stronger feeling of community; that is something we are really striving for. Learning environments are so interesting; there’s so much to consider and it seems I learn something new every day.
Ground floor spaces before renovation
“Growth has a lot of influencing factors which means that our development needs to be really agile and dynamic.”
Was it always the plan to expand this summer?
I wouldn’t say that it was always the plan; I think that it’s more the reality of our growth each year. That growth has a lot of influencing factors which means that our development needs to be really agile and dynamic. As we move into development phases, we are constantly communicating across all of our teams to see where we can improve and grow.
As we know, the Funkhaus has a lot of history and is, unsurprisingly, a listed building. In what ways have you had to be creative in order to get the most out of the space and meet the school’s cutting-edge needs?
When we had the opportunity to take on more of the beautiful, old recording studios that line our corridor we didn’t hesitate. These are probably not in the layout that most schools would design from the ground up, but they have something really special that I don’t think a more modern facility can provide. There is a gravity in those spaces that outweighs the inability to bend the facility to our will!
This year we are taking on more of the ground floor entrance and developing it into our welcome and community area. The biggest challenge here is making sure that the design suits the history of the building. Interior design was never previously on my radar, but it seems I think more and more about lamps, furniture and plants than I would have expected a couple of years ago.
“The idea of “welcome” is at the forefront of many of our development decisions this year.”
Next year our music students can expect even more recording and production studios, a multi-speaker setup for all sorts of ambisonic or 8.1 mixing, a new and improved tech store with the ability to more easily check out equipment, and quite likely some new synths!
Our film production students can look forward to an improved film studio with an infinity wall green screen and a more consolidated set of classrooms and editing facilities. Learning from this past year, we will also be improving all our film kits in small but effective ways. Our screen acting students will also be getting a dedicated space!
How about in terms of general comfort and making students feel welcome and at home?
This is something we are thinking about a lot. The community area downstairs that I described before is probably the biggest answer to this question. A large kitchen area and a co-working space with lots of interesting places to hang out is what I’m working on. It should feel like you can read a book, hang out and chat, edit a film, or work on your newest track on headphones.
Our lengthy upstairs corridor will also see some hangout areas and workstations set up so that students can make more use of that space in between classes. I could probably go on and on about many small things that I have in my head; suffice it to say that the idea of “welcome” is at the forefront of many of our development decisions this year.
“The cumulative effect of working on the physical facility and the way we function at the same time is what’s exciting.”
Which plan are you personally most excited to see come to fruition?
I’m always partial to new recording studios – this year our tech team will be setting up the newest addition, K13. However, the film studio upgrades and the social area are going to make such an incredible difference. I’m excited for the whole facility. There’s things that are somewhat intangible, like working on our internal systems; how we operate as a tech team. These things have a huge impact on our students and staff and so the cumulative effect of working on the physical facility and the way we function at the same time is what’s exciting.
We can’t not talk about how the whole expansion is going to look. In your best interior design speak, what aesthetic vibe are you going for?
In a sense we are bound by the aesthetic of this building; we need to work with a lot of raw steel and concrete since that is already here. There is an element of formality to parts of this building, so we are always trying to think of how to balance that out. Our students are creative individuals and so the goal is for us to create an environment that stimulates that.
I also want to pull inspiration from the city that we are in: the cafes, bars, clubs, and the often beautiful old apartments that can be found in Berlin. Mixing that all together to create individual islands within this larger facility is what I’m hoping to achieve. Oh, and plants. More plants.
“I also want to pull inspiration from the city that we are in: the cafes, bars, clubs, and the often beautiful old apartments that can be found in Berlin.”