Assemble – Granby Four Streets

About Assemble

Assemble are a collective based in London who work across the fields of art, architecture and design.

They began working together in 2010 and are comprised of 18 members. Assemble seek to actively involve the public as both participant and collaborator in their work. In 2015 they won Europe’s most prestigious contemporary visual art award, the Turner Prize, for their regeneration project in Granby, Liverpool.

Granby Four Streets

Assemble’s Granby Four Streets was the result of a 20-year battle by local residents to save a series of terrace housing from demolition. The project presented a vision for the area that built on the hard work already done by local residents: refurbishing housing and public space, and providing new opportunities for the area’s residents. Their Turner Prize win sent shockwaves through the international art world – this was the first time a group or collective had ever taken home the award.

Formed in 2010, Assemble has developed a reputation for collaborating closely with the communities that inhabit their projects. Granby Street was once a lively high street at the centre of Liverpool’s most racially and ethnically diverse community. Following many attempted regeneration projects, all but four of Granby’s streets were demolished, and the community was scattered across the city and beyond. Following the resourceful actions of a group of local residents, a campaign was launched to ‘reclaim their streets’. “Over two decades they cleared, planted, painted, and campaigned,” explains Assemble. Eventually forming the Granby Four Streets Community Land Trust, the residents hired Assemble to devise a vision for the area, which could bring the empty homes back into use as affordable housing.

The project

Their response nurtured the ‘resourcefulness and DIY spirit’ of the area and included the renovation of 10 houses and the creation of new social spaces, alongside local training and employment opportunities. All work was delivered in partnership with the local community. After sitting empty and neglected for over 30 years, new residents have now started to move into the renovated houses, breathing fresh life into the community. Until their nomination, Assemble had never actually considered themselves to be artists. "We were mostly confused,” they told The Observer’s architecture critic Rowan Moore of their surprise nomination in an interview in November 2015. “I think the nomination in some ways created a quite uncomfortable sense for us in terms of our work here [Granby] as there was suddenly this rarified eye coming to Granby and looking at people’s lives and the way they occupied space and their activities, which had been so organic.” Assemble member, Fran Edgerly, explains in the Tate video above.

Granby Workshop

As a means of continuing their support of the community in Granby, Assemble set up the Granby Workshop, which sells experimental, handmade products for homes, all of which are made in the local area. Each product they sell is unique and all profits go back into the business, which trains and employs local people. For their contribution to the Turner Prize 2015 exhibition the collective built a showroom displaying the products of the Workshop, which visitors were invited to buy to help fund the launch of the project.