London-based architecture collective Assemble, the first architects to win the prestigious Turner Prize, will activate the outdoor courtyard at A/D/O by turning it into a "model factory" that will explore utopian ideals of work. Following their highly lauded projects in the U.K., this will be their first site-specific installation in the U.S. and the first activation in the outdoor space at A/D/O.
The installation is a part of the inaugural season of the Design Academy at A/D/O, which will explore the theme of “Utopia vs. Dystopia: Designing Our Imagined Futures.”The Design Academy at A/D/O offers programming intended to provoke and invigorate the creative practice of designers. It convenes prominent thinkers from diverse backgrounds and engages in a thorough investigation of a central theme. From mid-February through late April 2017, Assemble, A/D/O and its collaborators will devise a model place of work and a set of processes and products that will describe an alternative vision for how society should build and function.
Drawing on Assemble’s ongoing work, “A Factory As It Might Be” will explore new creative possibilities in reinventing the abundant and malleable material of urban environments.
The heart of the project is a building—or “factory”—constructed out of galvanized steel, enclosed with a roof and clad by clay tiles,which will be produced by the team over time within the factory’s work space using a single industrial clay extruder and an electric kiln. Within the factory, the Assemble team has instructed the A/D/O Design Academy and its collaborators in the tile manufacturing process with the intent of producing a unique range of products, including planters and permanent tiles for the A/D/O courtyard, dinnerware for the restaurant at A/D/O, and more. The factory will eventually feature worktables on hand for production and hosting events, and structural shelving that will provide both storage and display units for the various clay items fabricated over the three-month activation.
“With ‘A Factory As It Might Be’, we are interested in how utopian ideas can be applied to the very practical reality of construction, and how building elements—and their method of production—can become an expression of social, economic and political aspirations,” says Lewis Jones, founding member of Assemble.
‘A Factory as it Might Be’ takes its name from the eponymous essay by revolutionary social activist William Morris, who imagined the ideal factory as a place where work, leisure and education can interplay—and a place where machinery doesn’t render skilled workers futile, but rather serves as a complementary complement to pleasurable, creative work.
Key members from Gran by Workshop, the social enterprise set up by Assemble as a part of the ongoing rebuilding of a neighborhood in Liverpool, England, aided in the conceptualization and construction of the factory itself, while serving as instructors in the tile extrusion process. Furthermore, the Gran by team evolved their own practice and education at A/D/O as they developed a set of collaborative, experimental and improvisational applications, which they will continue to use at Gran by.
“Assemble Studio’s interest in the broader implications of their work and the potential for design to have real-world impact strongly resonates with the core tenants of the Design Academy,” says Daniel Pittman,Design Director at A/D/O. “The team has successfully framed‘A Factory As It Might Be’ as a conduit for collaboration, and we’re excited to see how this project unfolds within the growing community at A/D/O.”