As part of the inaugural season of the Design Academy at A/D/O, London-based, Turner Prize-winning architecture collective Assemble transformed an outdoor courtyard in Brooklyn into a ‘model factory’. The building is constructed with a galvanized-steel roof and a façade of clay tiles that the team produced within the factory.
Called A Factory as it Might Be (after an essay by William Morris), the installation explores the application of utopian ideals to a functional structure. A 19th-century socialist and textile designer, Morris was interested in revolutionizing the manufacturing workspace, and imagined the factory of the future as a place where work, leisure, and education could interplay.
Morris’s utopia was one where modern mechanized methods of production wouldn’t render skilled workers futile, but instead serve as a complement to pleasurable, creative work.
‘With A Factory as it Might Be, we are interested in how utopian ideas can be applied to the very practical reality of construction, and how building elements – and their methods of production – can become an expression of social, economic, and political aspirations,’ says Lewis Jones, founding member of Assemble.
The experimental space yields a new breed of design object, with a sense of place behind them (in more ways than one). With strong ties to their roots, the clay products made in A Factory as it Might Be have a specific local identity: they share their DNA with the studio in which they were born. Made from the same material as the space itself, they derive selfhood and story from their home ground.