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The Remarkable Yoga Hut That Rethinks Office Space

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Have you found your True North yet?

If not, Bre Nourse and Rachel Gillette are ready to guide you there inside of their newly built Quonset Hut yoga studio.

Posing at The Collective
Yoga at The Collective at True North

They are experienced yoga instructors or “guides” who are not only helping people to become more aware of their bodies; they are also making entrepreneurs rethink their business space.

Nourse and Gillette are the owners of The Collective at True North, a yoga studio in a Detroit neighborhood that has opened up new possibilities for fitness buffs as well as professionals there.

The Collective offers customers several different services under the arches of their Quonset Hut. They lead guided yoga classes, book clubs, empowerment circles, potlucks, and painting classes. It’s the perfect place to relax and unwind.

When you first step inside of this beautifully designed steel building, you’re greeted by an abundance of natural, warm light and wide-open spaces.

“On the exterior, the Quonset Huts seem cold and industrial. Once you enter, you realize how warm and light-filled they are. People really tend to open up in our space and feel a sense of relief, a lightness and a sense of wonder,” says Nourse.

Exterior of The Collective at True North
The Collective at True North Outside Photo

Nourse and Gillette also offer members of the community business spaces for rent called co-working spaces.

They rent the small business space on an hourly basis for meetings, teambuilding exercises, traditional work, or private events. Customers have the opportunity to take advantage of open tables, a full kitchen and a spectacular outdoor space. It’s great for professionals who are looking for the perfect atmosphere to relax and create.

Offering these spaces not only gives professionals in the area another business space option, but it also helps to keep the prices reasonable for those who wish to engage in fitness activities.

“Most yoga studios have space that is largely vacant between classes and remains inactive. That means they pay a lot of money in rent and have to make up for it by offering high-cost teacher training and programming,” says Nourse. “We wanted to activate our space during our natural business downtimes and offer a place that was affordable for creatives and other individuals, but that also allowed people to work in a mindful, focused environment.”

The space that The Collective occupies is actually a part of a larger project that is the testing ground for urban innovation called True North Detroit. It was created by Edwin Chan of EC3 out of Los Angeles. This half-acre, live-work community was designed to cater to Detroit’s creative population.

The project was inspired in part by a 1946 photo of a Berlin Quonset Hut Village after WWII. Chan says he was driving in an area around the building site and saw an abandoned Quonset Hut there.

Berlin 1946 Quonset Hut Village
Quonset Hut Village in Berlin

“It immediately struck me that the simplicity and prowess of the form could be elevated through design to meet the desires and demands of how we live today,” says the developer in a press release.

True North includes nine SteelMaster Quonset hut units that developers call sanctuary-inspired spaces. The huts were designed for those who think differently. They all include radiant concrete floors, finished plywood, and translucent and transparent polycarbonate was incorporated to allow natural light to fill these amazing spaces.

Each hut was designed with a particular profession in mind. When the designers created them, they wanted to adopt a minimalist type atmosphere. They have become the perfect working spaces for writers, chefs, designers, community leaders, lawyers, artists, and of course, yoga instructors.

The Collective was a great fit for this new community located just a few miles northwest of the downtown area.

Yoga at The Collective
Yoga class at The Collective

While Nourse and Gillette were on the hunt for a business space, they stumbled upon the True North community. Nourse says she first became aware of the project on a drive down Grand River.

“I noticed the shells of a very interesting-looking structure rising out of what seemed like nowhere and went home to look up what they might be. I found an article on that talked about what the structures were and the developer. I kept a close eye on the development from there,” says Nourse.

She says students and those taking advantage of their co-working spaces get to experience something much different than the norm.

Nourse says this was her first time ever being inside of a Quonset Hut. She never really considered them as workspaces before she opened her business inside of the True North Detroit corrugated Quonset Huts. Nourse says initially, she saw the buildings as farming or storage structures, but her view quickly changed when she moved into True North.

The Collective at True North Detroit
Woman doing yoga at The Collective at True North

“’Where am I?’ was my first thought and almost everyone’s that comes into our space. It really is a community that makes you think about the way you live and the structures that we choose to live in,” says Nourse.

Nourse and Gillette work hard every day to help people get to their True North, but what exactly does that mean?

“We see your True North as your fixed point in a world that is rapidly changing. We offer opportunities for others to follow their True North or to discover what their True North truly is! We do this through weekly yoga classes as well as events that relate to the aspects of yoga that are not movement-related. All of these events help our students discover aspects of what truly drives them and connects to their ultimate purpose,” says Nourse.

True North Detroit was created with this exact mindset. Edwin Chan of Prince Concepts took a chance to think outside of the box of the traditional, straight wall structure.

He took industrial-style buildings and elevated the standard form and function of them to meet the specific business needs of a wide range of professionals. Their efforts have not gone unnoticed by the architectural community.

They have won the Progressive Architecture Award by Architect Magazine and they were also featured on the cover. They were also given the 2017 Best in Design Award by the Architect Newspaper.

If all goes well with this project, Chan plans to continue to develop these kinds of structures in other areas while Nourse and Gillette continue to help people discover their purpose.

Are you ready to find your True North?

The Collective Sign
The Collective of True North Detroit

More stories about True North Detroit: 

Detroit Quonset Hut Village wins 2017 Best in Design Award

Architects, NY Developer Team Up to Create Steel Quonset Hut Village in Detroit