London's Assemble architecture collective awarded Turner Prize

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The 18 member Assemble team worked with locals to refurbish 10 homes for use as affordable housing in Toxteth, Liverpool(Credit: Assemble)

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In honor of its work on the Granby Four Streets redevelopment project in Toxteth, Liverpool, London collective Assemble has become the first architecture firm to be awarded the Turner Prize.

Organized by the UK's Tate Gallery, previous high-profile winners of the Turner Prize include Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst. The award focuses on art, so the fact that an architecture firm has been handed the prize is causing a stir.

The Granby Four Streets project concerns an area in Toxteth that was earmarked for demolition. Local residents resisted the plans and took it upon themselves to clean and paint buildings, plant flowers, and decorate the homes and streets, even going so far as to create a popular monthly market.

Assemble's input involved working with locals to refurbish 10 homes for use as affordable housing. As the BBC reports, the firm's low-budget but imaginative approach saw the use of brick and rubble construction waste to create mantelpieces, ceramic door handles that were fired with barbecues fueled by waste sawdust, and hand-decorated tiles and hand-pressed terracotta lamps.

Assemble also launched the Granby Workshop, a social enterprise that makes handmade products for homes, with the proceeds going toward efforts to redevelop the Granby Four Streets area.

The 18 member collective was handed the £25,000 (roughly US$37,500) prize money by Kim Gordon (of experimental band Sonic Youth) in Glasgow last night. An exhibition of Assemble's handmade goods is on display in Glasgow's Tramway art center until January 17.

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