Architects and makers have won the prestigious Turner Prize.

For the first time in its history, architects have secured one of the top accolades of the art world. Assemble, an 18-strong collective of young architects and designers have won this year’s Turner Prize, the UK’s most prestigious award for contemporary art.

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The extremely active London-based collective, all under 30-years-old, were selected for their hands-on work in helping a local community restore condemned Victorian terraces in Granby Four Streets, a rundown part of Liverpool in northwest England. In collaboration with residents, the collective created a low-cost model of grassroots regeneration, building a workshop on site and using found materials to produce interior fittings. So far Assemble has helped the community refurbish 10 derelict properties. Assemble were brought in by social developer Steinbeck Studio to see what role design could play in assisting the community to grow again.

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In one swoop, in handing the Turner Prize to a socially-conscious enterprise and architects, the prize jury recognises the contemporary blurring of lines between the differing modes of art and design practice, while also democratising art in an era where a new socially responsible generation is focused on not just what their work represents but how their work may be useful to society.

…A new socially responsible generation is focused on not just what their work represents but how their work may be useful to society.

“In an age when anything can be art,” said Alastair Hudson, jury member, who nominated the architects, “why not have a housing estate?” Explaining the selection of Assemble and the other shortlisted artists, Hudson describes a way of working “in very specific circumstances to make something happen, to make something change … They are trying to do something rather than just represent something.”

Pleasingly, for Assemble, which consists of recent architect graduates and trades people, their innovative, inclusive practice is more akin to the principles of Frank Gehry than the headline-making starchitects of recent years.

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The Project – Granby Four Streets
The Granby Four Streets are a cluster of terraced houses in Toxteth, Liverpool that were built around 1900 to house artisan workers. Following the Toxteth riots in 1981, the council acquired many of the houses in the area for demolition and redevelopment. Hundreds of people were moved out the area and houses subsequently fell into disrepair. Local residents consistently fought plans for demolition and battled to save the houses. Over the past 10 years they have cleaned and planted their streets, painted the empty houses, organized a thriving monthly market, founded a Community Land Trust and shown their area in a different light. Assemble worked with the Granby Four Streets CLT and Steinbeck Studios to present a sustainable and incremental vision for the area that builds on the hard work already done by local residents and translates it to the refurbishment of housing, public space and the provision of new work and enterprise opportunities. The approach is characterised by celebrating the value of the area’s architectural and cultural heritage, supporting public involvement and partnership working, offering local training and employment opportunities and nurturing the resourcefulness and DIY spirit that defines the four streets.

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Granby Workshop
Granby Workshop is a new social enterprise making handmade products for homes which was launched through the Turner Prize Exhibition 2015.
GW has grown out of the community-led rebuilding of a Liverpool neighborhood following years of dereliction. Training and employing local people, the Workshop sells a range of products that are Made in Granby.
The project has been set up by Assemble as part of their ongoing work in the area and for their contribution to the Turner Prize 2015 they have built a showroom displaying the products of the Workshop.
Products can be pre-ordered during the Turner prize exhibition to support the launch of the business and the ongoing rebuilding of the area.

www.granbyworkshop.co.uk

Wall-1 frontview showroom-1 All photographs via Assemble