March 8, 2019

Custom Lane were delighted to host James Binning of Assemble in March 2019 as part of the Talks at the Lane series.

Listen to the talk here:

Assemble are a collective working across architecture, design and art. Founded in 2010 to undertake a single self-built project, Assemble has since grown and delivered a diverse and award-winning body of work, whilst retaining a democratic and co-operative working method.

James shared his insight into the work of the group, describing Assemble itself as an ongoing project that is subject to regular revision and reconfiguration. Beginning with the practice origins, James talked through the unique practice structure and the way it has continued as a collaborative body of professionals that fluctuates depending on the projects and demands on the practice as a whole. This enables built, social and research-based work at a variety of scales, both making things and making things happen.

Yardhouse - Creative Workspace in the Olympic Park

Brutalist Playground - Post-war Play Structures
2015 Collaboration with Artist Simon Terrill

Among the projects in the practice, James highlighted the collaborative approach taken on the Granby Four Streets, Liverpool, working with local residents and artists to develop a scheme that won the prestigious Turner Prize, becoming the first architecture or design studio to win this award. Skills in design, making, researching and educating are pooled together, enabling the production of the contemporary built environment, the foundations being a platform of expertise and experience.

Alongside the practice’s success, James touched upon the challenges and constraints that they come up against, and made comparisons with the challenges that affect the profession at large. One of these mentioned the desire to design responsibly, be that with a building, playground, space or a product. Architectural bids are an example; what sort of projects are we bidding for? What is our impact on society and how are we influencing our ideals on the built environment?

The talk was followed by a lively debate with the audience and we would like to thank James for his honest and insightful responses, as well as the audience for taking part.

This talk was the fifth in the current season of Talks at the Lane. Please come and share a drink and some thoughts with us for the remainder of the season. More information can be found here.