Started by a group of Cambridge University students not yet qualified as architects, Assemble first garnered attention by turning wasted materials and places into temporary exhibitions. While some members of the collective are now qualified architects, some have no formal training at all, and instead draw on backgrounds in set design, anthropology, construction, and more.
The first major project of Assemble Studio was the Cineroleum, an abandoned petrol station turned into a temporary cinema through the use of inexpensive, reclaimed, and donated materials.
One of Assemble’s most notable works is Granby Four Streets, an ongoing community project in Liverpool. The collective worked with Granby Four Streets Community Land Trust and Steinbeck Studios to study a section of Toxteth, Liverpool, 80 to 90 percent of which was abandoned following riots in 1981. They came up with ideas to encourage renewed habitation for the derelict houses in the neighborhood, including gardens planted in the shells of ruined homes. To cut costs, its members implemented the “enrichment program,” in which they craft missing hardware such as doorknobs. They are also training neighbors in the skills necessary to continue refurbishing housing in the area, hoping to perpetuate a self-sustaining project of urban rehabilitation.
Recent projects make use of design and the built environment to bring communities together. In 2021, Assemble worked with the local skateboarding community in Folkestone, South England, to develop a skating spot that celebrates an informal, pre-existing one by transforming it into a permanent, dedicated space for skating. The resulting “skateable artwork” can be enjoyed by anyone. In the same year, Assemble worked with Hayatsu Architects and Stinsensqueeze on a series of interventions to revitalize the Blue, Bermondsey’s historic market and town center.
Currently, the studio is working with BC Architects and Materials to design a new workspace for the Luma Atelier in Arles. Based in the south of France, the Luma Atelier is a think tank, production workshop, and learning network. The Atelier seeks to co-develop new ways of producing and caring for the city and landscape, using design as a tool for transition.