The Cineroleum was a self-initiated project that transformed a derelict petrol station into a hand-built cinema. It aimed to demonstrate the wider potential for re-claiming these increasingly prevalent pieces of redundant automobile infrastructure as new public spaces.
The Cineroleum was an improvisation on the glamour and excitement of cinema’s golden age, when going to the pictures was a social experience at the heart of the community. A five-week programme of off-beat classics and independent shorts drew two thousand visoitors over the course of five weeks, with every screening selling out.
Separated by only the thickness of a curtain from the road outside, the audiences at Cineroleum were simultaneously contained in a private experience within the auditorium and also participating in a street-side spectacle for passers by. As the credits began to roll at the end of the film the curtain was suddenly raised, the suspension of disbelief would end and experience within cinema would extend into the street.

Enclosed by an ornate curtain strung from the forecourt roof, The Cineroleum was an improvisation of the decadent interiors that greeted audiences during cinema’s golden age, when going to the picture was a social experience at the heart of the community. A five-week programme of off-beat classics and independent shorts drew two thousand visitors over the course of five weeks, with every screening selling out.
Limited funds and a necessity for thrift lead to an inventive use of materials. Familiar elements of cinematic iconography were re-imagined using cheap, donated and reclaimed materials. Traditional flip-up seats were recreated in scaffolding boards and the festoon curtain fabricated out of roofing material.
It aimed to demonstrate the wider potential for re-claiming these increasingly prevalent pieces of redundant Manuals for making were developed which offered step-by-step instructions for the creation of each element of the cinema, thus allowing anyone with any level of experience to join in and have visible, creative impact on their built environment.
Preceeding the feature films in place of trailers, the work of over forty five short film-makers from across London was shown. Working with local and grassroots film festivals to source and curate the short films, The Cineroleum offered a rare opportuntiy for young-film makers to have their work screened publically outside of niche festivals.
The Cineroleum trialled a more independent, entrepreneurial and inclusive approach to interacting with in the public realm. The media maelstrom caused by the project gave further impetus to what was soon to become
a flood of pop-up architecture across London and the UK. Component parts of the cinema have since been redistributed among a number of small-scale independent cinemas across London.
The Cineroleum won Ideastap Group Innovator Award, was No.1 in The Observer’s ‘Top Ten Architectural moments of 2010’, has been exhibited at Maison D’Architecture and Pavilion D’Arsenal in Paris, and has been widely published.

Folly for a flyover

Folly for a Flyover aimed to test the viability of an derelict motorway undercroft in Hackney Wick as a
new public space. The project provided a café, cinema and workshop space which hosted an eight week programme of events and drew over 20,000 people to the previously unused undercroft. The site’s potential future users, both local residents and businesses were invited to join in right from the inception of the work, from assisting with construction to collaborating on programming.
The unintended bi-product of the intersection of the Lea Navigational Canal and the A12, the undercroft is
at the meeting point between Hackney Marshes, the residential and rapidly changing industrial areas of the Hackney Wick and the nascent Olympic Park.
For years a place of misdemeanor and anti-social behavior, public access to the site was blocked. However, the undercroft is on the edge of a well-used towpath, and possesses the rare physical conditions of being both under-cover but open air. The main factors constraining its potential were legislative prohibitions and its troubled social history. Development of the project therefore took two inter-related courses; an extensive process of negotiations with the legislative bodies responsible for the site and using a design-based solution, focused on opening up participation as broadly as possible to shift the public perception of the site.
Turning the existing problems of the site into opportunities, the Folly acted to re-write the site’s troubled history. Posing as an imaginary piece of the area’s past, a building trapped under the motorway, providing recreational and community uses that capitalized on the surrounding green space and canal route, incorporating a cafe, events space and boat hire facilities.
Mimicking the intricate brickwork throughout the surrounding buildings of Hackney Wick, the Folly walls were hand-built from reclaimed hardwood blocks cut to brick dimensions and threaded together as a giant construction kit. This simple modular design allow for broad participation. With a hands-on approach to its design resolution, the construction process involved over 200 volunteers over the course of 4 weeks. This not only meant the project received an attention to detail unusual for its limited means but also that a tangible sense of local ownership and involvement was developed prior to opening.
During the daytime, free family friendly workshops focused encouraged people to make and to build. Working with local groups such as The Discover Center, Hackney Marshes User Group, Building Exploratory and The Hackney Podcast, a day-time programme was developed which encouraged playful interaction both with the Folly and the surrounding area. Rowboats offered visitors the opportunity to explore the local waterways, and fictional audiotours of the canal were provided in collaboration with Floating House Productions.
Folly for a Flyover won Bank of America Myrill Lynch CREATE Art Award, was nominated for Design Museum Design’s of the Year 2012, Conde Naste Traveller Awards, was listed in The Observer’s ‘Top Ten Architectural moments of 2011’, featured in The New York Magazine’s ‘Delirious city’, a selection of twenty four exemplary urban inventions from across the world, has been exhibited at Maison D’Architecture and Pavilion D’Arsenal in Paris and is the flagship project International Showcase of Pop-up Architecture in Lima, Peru.

New Addington: Central Parade

Assemble were appointed as designers in residence for a £516,000 public realm improvement project in New Addington as a part of The Outer London Fund. A garden-village utopia famed for its failure, New Addington has a long history of isolation, neglect and social deprivation. Despite this poor reputation, its isolation has also given it an extraordinary sense of community and independence. The civic and social spaces that encircle the town square host many thriving local groups and a wealth of community activities and events. However, the majority of these activities took place behind closed doors and the public space at the very heart of New Addington was empty and starved of the vibrancy that existed around it.
The original brief required a set of capital works followed by a series of spectacular events, Assemble proposed reversing the programme to host the events in the run-up to the Christmas period. This meant that existing activities could be outdoors as a means of celebrating what’s already there and prototyping the eventual capital investment with the parallel involvement of local stakeholders. Coupling a rigorous study of existing physical constraints with comprehensive engagement and mapping of local activities and assets, Assemble used the events to suggest pragmatic and inventive design solutions to existing problems at 1:1. This included negotiating complex level changes by building a stage for the Tea-dances from the community centre, improving pedestrian access by reorganizing the market, and tackling existing prejudices by explicitly making spaces for children. Through a process of consultation through action, Assemble were able to determine public opinion, challenge assumed social prejudices and catalyze support for an ambitious scheme in an extremely short timeframe.
Based on the proven success of the prototyping events, the capital works include a level crossing between the full width of the town square and Central Parade, improving access between shops and the square, a bespoke herringbone timber stage as a platform for community events; low brick seating walls and tree planting to line the square and screen the adjacent car parks; hard landscaping that provides opportunities for skating and play and a rooftop community signage board that will both signal the entrance to New Addington and promote upcoming events and activities. The material strategy is borne out of a close understanding of the unique existing language of New Addington, both to celebrate whats there and so as not to delineate the extent of investment.
Based on the success and local support of the project, Croydon have been successful in applying for further funding. Continuing to work closely with existing residents and businesses, Assemble have produced a ‘long list’ of priorities and recommendations for future public investment in the area.

Assemble are a young, critically acclaimed practice of artists, designers and architects based in London with a strong track record of developing successful public spaces in difficult urban situations. Our work is committed to uncovering the extraordinary opportunities and potential pleasures that exist on the fringes of everyday life and the built environment.
Varied backgrounds contribute to a holistic approach, from brief development, design, organising events and hands-on construction. We are committed to addressing the typical disconnection between the public and the process by which spaces are made, and champion a working practice that actively involves the public as both participant and accomplice in
the ongoing realisation of our work.
Assemble won Bauwelt International Award: Best First Project (2013), and have been nominated for the Design Museum’s Designs of the Year Award (2012), New London Architecture Awards (2012), listed in The Observer ‘Top Ten Architectural Moments of the Year’ (2010 and 2011).