Assemble & Join: Public Access Digital Manufacturing, Lower Marsh
A temporary collaborative community workshop in a re-purposed cafe. Using digital manufacturing, local people are able to design, develop and implement physical changes to the public realm in and around Lower Marsh, Waterloo, London.
The workshop centred around a CNC machine; a digital manufacturing tool that can be programmed to accurately cut complex shapes from sheet material. The A&J team will work with local people to collaboratively design, manufacture and build their ideas on site. All workshops and drop-in sessions at A&J were completely free for local residents, schools and businesses. A&J brought 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. 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.
A&J has recently been commissioned by NHS Bristol and will be running at Frenchay Hospital in 2014.