Another 365 days around the sun

Since I was last sitting in the Assemble studio we’ve orbited another 365 days around the sun. As I start back as editor, I return to an energised and expanded publication, thanks to the tenacity and vision of Rachel Elliot-Jones and the rest of the Assemble team. Here, a brief reflection and a vision for the future.

On a personal front, Quino and I welcomed an exceptionally cheeky new member of the family into the world, and late last year, the three of us were lucky enough to journey to Naoshima, the art-architecture island of our dreams where sublime Tadao Ando concrete meets the Seto Inland Sea. In the extended Assemble family, I want to make note of some incredible achievements that took place while I kept the home fires burning. From every angle, 2014 was a truly productive year – under the leadership and intelligence of acting editor Rachel Elliot-Jones and Assemble directors Pino Demaio, Quino Holland and Ben Keck, some Assemble Papers’ highlights include: a collaboration with the irrepressible Sarah K, Uriah Gray and Paul Fuog (of U-P) on the exquisite catalogue for The Other Hemisphere, traveling in spirit to Milan Furniture Fair and design Ex in Sydney; proudly taking the small footprint conversation offline, through the publication and distribution of our first two issues of Assemble Papers in print; an Assemble Papers x Crowdspot Back to the Future map; the launch of AP print issue #2 at the David Gianotten (Managing Director, OMA) MPavilion ‘In Conversation’ event at the Wheeler Centre; and the AP x General Assembly meetup.

Thank you must go especially to Rach who dived into the editorial role with great energy and tenacity, bringing an expanded focus and passion to the work we do here. You’ll continue to see and hear more from Rachel as she steps into a new role as Creative Producer and my co-pilot in the quiet but ambitious cultural expansion of Assemble Papers. Thank you also to occasional editor Sarah Booth, whose keen wit and can-do spirit saw us through some particularly frenetic times.

Three years ago, we founded this publication to explore the culture of living closer together. We are more committed than ever to fostering awareness, understanding and participation on both the challenges and possibilities of urbanisation in our era of climate change. But as Alain de Botton said of his decision to found Living Architecture, in one of our first ever interviews, “I realised that however pleasing it is to write about an issue one feels passionately about, the truth is that – a few exceptions aside – books don’t change anything. I realised that if I cared so much about architecture, writing was just a coward’s way out; the real challenge was to build”. As Assemble, we feel that the state of residential development, and housing quality and affordability, leaves a lot to be desired in our home city of Melbourne and Australian cities more broadly—and we’re pretty sure you feel the same way. Melbourne’s many accolades as the world’s “most livable city” don’t seem to consider two troubling tendencies: luxury-market CBD super skyscrapers and cookie cutter developments on the ever-sprawling boundaries of Greater Melbourne (with little real choice in between). The city we want to live in is human scale; has diverse neighbourhoods that mix old and new communities and amenities; is well-connected by safe and fast public transport; and sees design and culture as at least as integral as sport to the city’s well-being. We hope you agree—we’ll be asking for your thoughts in the near future.

In 2015, we aim to take a more active and visible stance in creating the kind of city we want to call home. We will continue to deepen the small footprint conversation through more ‘real world’ events and collaborations – opportunities for greater offline, human-to-human knowledge and learning, particularly on sustainability, ethics, urbanism and their intersection with creativity and design. With the recent Ethics of Design panel and Rebel Architecture screenings already under our belt and our next two issues of Assemble Papers in print upcoming, watch this space as we cook up more conversations and communal culture with a series of kindred spirits… including you.

Photo: Carol Lin (CC-License via Flickr).

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