On 7 December 2015, architecture, art and design collective Assemble picked up the UK’s most prestigious art award in Glasgow: the Turner Prize. The London-based collective – made up of 15 people – were nominated for their Granby Four Streets initiative in Liverpool, an on-going collaboration with a group of local residents who took control of their neighbourhood.
This triangle of four streets in Toxteth had been subject to years of mismanagement, decline and failed regeneration, resulting in a place – and its people – that was as good as written off. Unemployment, the riots of 1981 and negative perceptions of the area led to housing associations leaving, businesses closing down and decades of demolition and dereliction.
Over the past 10 years, a group of residents have started to take matters into their own hands, planting flowers and painting in the area, as well as forming a Community Land Trust and monthly market to bring life back to their streets. In 2012, Assemble stepped in to help build on the work that was already happening, acting as designers, builders, artists and organisers. Since then they have also set up Granby Workshop, a social enterprise making handmade products for homes.
As well as Granby Four Streets, Assemble is currently turning a south London Victorian bathhouse into a public art gallery, has turned a disused petrol station into a cinema, and has recreated the typical post-war playground found in Brutalist housing estates using pastel foam, which was used in an exhibition in the Royal Institute of British Architects.
For more information, visit the Assemble website.
Words by Angharad Jones. Images property of Assemble.