The London-based collective Assemble has been a hot topic all over the art world for the past year as the first architecture practice, the first collective and also the youngest ever winners of the prestigious Turner Prize back in December. One of the founding members, Paloma Strelitz, tells us how it all began.
Many of us studied architecture together and once we’d graduated we started discussing the possibility of creating a project. As ‘The Cineroleum’ began to develop more people got involved from diverse disciplinary backgrounds. Together we now form the core group of Assemble.
Assemble were added to the Turner Prize shortlist for their revival of the Granby Four Streets, a group of derelict terraced houses in Liverpool. This nomination came as somewhat of a shock to the public but also the collective themselves.
The nomination came as an immense surprise to us. I imagine it does for everyone because the process of nomination is very secretive. We all met up that evening to have a drink in the pub and discuss it. We were very excited but we felt we wanted to understand the implications a bit better before we accepted.
With a hugely broad field of reference and interests across the whole team, Assemble’s shared ethos is to “address the typical disconnection between the public and the process by which places are made” and to “champion a working practice that is interdependent and collaborative”.
We think that the city can be a very dis-empowering. And, as a practice, we’re really interested in addressing the typical disconnection between the public and the way our buildings and built environment are made. After all cities are man-made and material and over the past five years we’ve explored a range of strategies that explore this gap and try make the city more malleable.
Whilst working on Granby Four Streets the Community Land Trust were their clients for the project. Assemble collaborated with the local residents to create a sustainable and cumulative vision for the area.
We had a wonderful experience working with them because our interests and perspectives are very aligned. Many of the residents had been working-on the project to save the Granby Streets for so many years, so we fitted into a much longer trajectory and culture of creativity and action.
In response to the Turner prize nomination, Assemble created Granby Workshop. This workshop supports the local people in training and employment as it sells a range of products that are made in Granby.
The workshop uses the process of rebuilding the houses to contribute directly to rebuilding the social and economic infrastructure of the area. Granby Workshop is a place where things are learnt through making; as well as physical craft, it is a space for social, imaginative and political making.
The Granby Workshop exhibition at Tramway in Glasgow concluded in January but the work to develop the workshop is on-going and you can find more information here.
But that’s not all Assemble are up to, with numerous other live projects on the go as well as upcoming work with Goldsmiths.
We are also currently working on a project commissioned by Goldsmiths’, University of London, to create a new public art gallery within a former Victorian bathhouse at Laurie Grove, New Cross. Reflecting Goldsmiths’ culture of enquiry and making, it will offer a public programme of exhibitions, films, talks and performance in addition to a range of teaching, research and residency opportunities. As a critical testing ground for exploration and discussion the Gallery will become a new public resource for the arts in South London.
Tickets for the three days of OFFSET Dublin are on sale here, don’t miss your chance to be inspired by Paloma on our main stage this April.