When I first read the name of British architecture collective Assemble, I immediately (and wrongly) thought of assemblé (ah-sahm-blay), which in classical ballet describes a movement from the floor ‘to assemble in the air.’ While the collective has nothing to do with ballet, I found the term analogous with Assemble’s latest work—a community grown, built from the ground-up, project aptly titled A Factory As It Might Be.
The factory is Assemble’s first U.S.-based project, which is tightly nestled alongside the MINI-backed A/D/O creative hub building in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The factory sports a very distinctive facade shingled with in-house made blue and white ceramic tiles.
Dezeen writes the collective acquired an industrial clay extruder—think an icing pipe for clay—and an electric kiln, and the group began experimenting with different possibilities.
The result is a wall covered in a patchwork of blue- and beige-toned tiles, similar to the colourful front of the Yardhouse creative studios that Assemble built in east London in 2014. A Factory As It Might Be also borrows elements from another of the collective’s projects: the same principle of on-site production forms the basis of the Granby Workshop social enterprise.
The New York Times writes this principle of on-site production means the project is home-grown from the community.
Their practical vision has more to do with how buildings are used than with their grandeur; and it is often the users, as much as the architects, who steer the projects. Everything in Assemble’s cluttered studio — a former printmaking warehouse in the urban hinterland of Stratford, near the Olympic Park in East London—bears the imprint of their own hands, and the hands of people they have worked with.
The Times writes not a single member of the collective has an architecture license. Many studied architecture at Cambridge University only to stop short of completing their licensure track. Three have not studied architecture at all. Even so, members’ interests lie not in establishing a firm, but rather working on a project-by-project base focusing on the real-world implications of their work.
We are interested in how utopian ideas can be applied to the very practical reality of construction, and how building elements – and their method of production – can become an expression of social, economic and political aspirations,” said Assemble founding member Lewis Jones.
Assemble has framed their A Factory As It Might Be project as a conduit for collaboration reinforcing their ‘factory’ process with the community. The collective has been teaching the local community how to use the extruder and kiln so they can continue production after the project officially ends in late April 2017.
Assemble was the first design group to win the Turner Prize, Britain’s most prestigious art award.
Do you love or loathe these works of contemporary ceramic architecture? Let us know in the comments.