inspiration     Sep 17 2014

Easy Assembly, Ages 21+

By Natasha Amladi
Mapos Designer

We can design together, so why don’t we build together?

As a Londoner, I’m a fan of all things British – tea, crumpets, passive aggressive behavior on public transport etc etc. But in particular I’m very much still poking my nose into the quirky goings on of architects of my age, in the UK. I guess it’s like I left a part of this design culture behind when I moved to the States and so I can’t help but scour the internet on a regular basis in what seems to be a manifestation of my homesickness. And what I keep finding doesn’t fail to delight.

So I thought why not use my first blog entry to shift some focus ‘across the pond’ to a team of fellow classmates that are now called Assemble; a group of designers that are attempting to address the disconnection between the public and the process by which spaces are made.

I studied with a lot of these guys in the UK and shared many a takeaway during our long all-nighters in studio.  Whilst others have gone on to the mega corporate (in which their connection to the individual is lost…at least it seems that way to me) these guys have whole heartedly championed the importance of a person’s  journey through a space and the beauty of the details they discover.

What’s also pretty damn cool is that all published photos of their project focus just as much on the collaborative construction process as much as on the end result. The act of coming together to build something at 1:1 scale is something not many recent grads will ever get to do again, and so to achieve such a feat in London is highly commendable.  Due to the low budget of most of these projects, Assemble often recruit friends and volunteers, some of whom haven’t constructed a thing in their lives. But it’s the act of teaching a skill or craft and encouraging a collaborative effort to create something beautiful that allows such an approach to be highly successful and rewarding to everyone involved.

I guess I hope this inspires people to take part in more collaborative make-build projects in the city; whether they are temporary or permanent.  Remember how happy you were as a kid, sitting in your pillow fort that you’d constructed with your friends (usually featuring some sort of  paisley print sheet draped over the top)?? Believe it or not, as adults, we still have the ability and resources to come together and build bigger, more resilient structures that have at their root a social purpose both in the act of constructing as well as the building that is conceived.