“Community Fantasy and Future” by ASSEMBLE

Posted by Junko Yamamoto

Although the concept is not new, I feel that we have increasingly been holding discourse on the idea of “community” or something “shared.” When Ai-san and I were talking about Share Houses in Japan the other day, it reminded me. It seems that we are in need of re-defining the concept, or re-discovering its meaning. Our studio topic last semester (Kersten and David) was “commune,” and the previous studio with Atelier BowWow also had community-related design project (Kamanuma in Chiba, Japan). The discussions with those who we met during the Atelier BowWow studio trip (Hayashi-san and the local people in Kamanuma, Iida-san at Loving Pork Facility, and more), the story about “Ibasho Cafe” by Kiyota-san, and a similar communal project that Ueta-san, one of my GSD friends, showed us, and so on…  While pondering on these projects and stories, I went to see this exhibition titled, “Community Fantasy and Future” by ASSEMBLE, a group of 15 artists and architects based in London.  

The project is wonderful. It was awarded the Turner Prize in 2015. They successfully revitalized the deteriorating Granby Streets area of Liverpool through workshop-centered renovations of the abandaned houses with the local people. Their production process is unique and artistic, which they call “speculative design.” Although the definition may vary, they define it as the area between art and design — “incorporating design as a problem-solving method while approaching art as a means of raising social issues rather than of self-expression.” This is all “art,” in my opinion. This project seems to show the inherent role of the arts, which I believe is to “connect” — connect between people, between people and objects, between people and space (whatever the type of art it is). Art becomes the source of design, which may turn into architecture and/or products.