A conversation about reimagining labor, bureaucracy and the economics of practice amidst the neoliberal turn—featuring Assemble members Amica Dall and Joseph Halligan, and architecture historian Esther Choi.
The still-unfolding economic collapse of the late aughts has rendered the impasse within architectural patronage more apparent. In late capitalism, crisis and conflict are generalized conditions deemed necessary for the creation of new markets and architecture is contingent upon capitalism’s fluctuating processes of expansion and ephemeralization. Yet rather than acquiesce to the design of market commodities, what if architecture realized its own crisis-making potential? How can designers who are invested in restructuring prevailing market forces organize themselves? How might re-scripting the protocols of practice produce alternative aesthetic values, arrangements of resources and constituencies? If we could design a new relationship between architecture and commissioning institutions, what would it look like?
Assemble are a collective based in London, who work across the fields of art, architecture and design. They began working together in 2010, and are comprised of 18 members. Assemble’s working practice seeks to address the typical disconnection between the public and the process by which places are made. Assemble champion a working practice that is interdependent and collaborative, seeking to actively involve the public as both participant and collaborator in the on-going realisation of the work.
Esther Choi is an architectural historian and writer based in New York. She is the co-editor of Architecture Is All Over (Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, 2017).
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Photo credit: Philipp Ebeling