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Published 16/02/2016 email E-MAIL print PRINT

Anthony Engi Meacock: ‘Bringing creative practice out of the art bubble and into a wider context is a really interesting thing’

The founder member of Assemble, which last year became the first architectural practice to win the Turner Prize, talks about the group’s work and ethos, and the benefits of combining the artist’s qualities of curiosity and openness with an architectural sensibility for place-making

When Assemble won the UK’s biggest contemporary art award, the 2015 Turner Prize, it was the first time an architectural practice had done so. The judges selected them as much for the participatory, collaborative nature of their projects - Granby Four Streets in Liverpool (the rehabilitation, together with the local Community Land Trust, of semi-derelict Victorian houses that had been intended for demolition) and the Baltic Street Adventure Playground in Glasgow - as for the artistry and inspired husbandry of resources that characterise these projects.

Assemble cohered as a collective of assorted architecture and arts students with their first project, 2010’s Cineroleum, a temporary cinema that they improvised from an abandoned petrol station and either found or donated materials. The practice (now numbering 19 participants) developed through subsequent public art projects that often incorporated infrastructure and temporary buildings, from New Addington’s Central Parade in Croydon in 2011 to 2012’s Folly for a Flyover (a community arts and cinema space under a motorway bridge in east London). With two projects in east London, Blackhorse Workshop in Walthamstow and Sugarhouse Studios in Stratford, they are shaping spaces that support makers, crafts and creative communities, with minimal resources. A variety of theatres, exhibitions, play structures and performance spaces have followed, underpinned by a commitment to craftsmanship, stakeholder engagement and social and material sustainability.

Founding member Anthony Engi Meacock talks to Studio International about the evolution of Assemble’s work and ethos, and the benefits of combining the artist’s qualities of curiosity and openness with an architectural sensibility for place-making.



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