Assemble & Join: Community Manufacturing, Lower Marsh
A new collaborative community workshop where, using digital manufacturing, local people will be able to design, develop and implement physical changes to the public realm in and around Lower Marsh.
Assemble & Join (A&J), funded by Lambeth Council, is a collaboration between me, Christopher Jarratt and GD/HTA and will be opening in October 2012. Situated in a former cafe, A&J will offer local residents, school children, shopkeepers, market traders and community groups the chance to collectively imagine, design and build changes to the public realm to better suit their needs, as well as those of the community as a whole. This will potentially include everything from wayfinding schemes and wildlife habitat to architectural installations and Christmas decorations.
The workshop will centre around a CNC machine; a digital manufacturing tool that can be programmed to accurately cut complex shapes from sheet material (predominantly plywood). The A&J team will work with local people to collaboratively design, manufacture and build their ideas on site in a matter of minutes. All workshops and drop-in sessions at A&J will be completely free for local residents, schools and businesses. A&J is bringing digital manufacturing to the high street, meaning anybody and hopefully everybody is able to play a more active role in shaping where they live and work.
Lower Marsh is a unique and historic street running East to West directly behind Waterloo station in Central London, parallel with the River Thames. The street has many independent shops, market stalls and cafes and retains a strong sense of identity.
This independence is the inspiration behind A&J. Bringing digital manufacturing capabilities to an area with such character (and characters) enables change to come from within. Collective ideas, design and decision-making will enhance this rather than detract from all that makes Lower Marsh one of central London’s last remaining truly local market streets.
Assemble & Join is re-imagining the role a high street can play within a community, and in turn the role a community can play in the way an area develops over time.
Currently the aesthetic strength of Lower Marsh resembles the character of the shop owners and market traders that form the heart and soul of the area. Change, while often inevitable, can be undesirable, particularly to those who live and work closest to it. Redevelopment often leads to the homogenisation of Britain’s high streets, and many are no longer the vibrant heart of the communities in which they sit. Lower Marsh is the antithesis of the generic chain-store experience, and A&J believe that by opening up the tools of change to the street, its identity will only become stronger.
A&J will offer the chance to learn and develop new skills through work experience opportunities for local people interested in contemporary manufacturing techniques.
Lambeth Council awarded the contract to A&J as part of the larger redevelopment of Lower Marsh, currently underway. A&J’s doors will open in October 2012 for an initial four month tenure.