Assemble & Join, Lower Marsh, Waterloo, London

Autumn 2012

GD/HTA, Tom Tobia and Christopher Jarratt have come together to open a community micro-manufacturing workshop on Lower Marsh, Waterloo.

Assemble & Join (A&J), funded by Lambeth Council, will be opening in October 2012. Situated in a former cafe, A&J will offer local residents, school children, shopkeepers, market traders and community groups the chance to collectively imagine, design and build changes to the public realm to better suit their needs, as well as those of the community as a whole. This will potentially include everything from way finding schemes and wildlife habitat to Christmas decorations. A&J will collectively enhance one of Central London’s most independent areas, building on the sense of increased community spirit engendered by this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games.

A Lower Marsh resident learning more about the A&J Workshop

The workshop will centre around a CNC machine; a digital manufacturing tool that can be programmed to accurately cut complex shapes from sheet material (predominantly plywood). The A&J team will work with local people to collaboratively design, manufacture and build their ideas on site in a matter of minutes. All workshops and drop-in sessions at A&J will be completely free for local residents, schools and businesses. A&J is bringing digital manufacturing to the high street, meaning anybody and hopefully everybody is able to play a more active role in shaping where they live and work.

Assemble & Join is re-imagining the role a high street can play within a community, and in turn the role a community can play in the way an area develops. Lower Marsh is a unique and historic street running East to West directly behind Waterloo station in Central London, parallel with the River Thames. The street has many independent shops, market stalls and cafes and retains a strong sense of identity.

The Assemble & Join workshop on Lower Marsh

This independence is the inspiration behind A&J. Bringing digital manufacturing capabilities to an area with such character (and characters) enables change to come from within. Collective ideas, design and decision-making will enhance this rather than detract from all that makes Lower Marsh one of central London’s last remaining truly local market streets.

Currently the aesthetic strength of Lower Marsh resembles the character of the shop owners and market traders that form the heart and soul of the area. Change, while often inevitable, can be undesirable, particularly to those who live and work closest to it. Redevelopment often leads to the homogenisation of Britain’s high streets, and many are no longer the vibrant heart of the communities in which they sit. Lower Marsh is the antithesis of the generic chain-store experience, and A&J believe that by opening up the tools of change to the street, its identity will only become stronger.

Additionally, A&J will offer the chance to learn and develop new skills through work experience opportunities for local people interested in contemporary manufacturing techniques.

Lambeth Council, in partnership with local business and community groups, awarded the contract to A&J as part of the larger redevelopment of Lower Marsh currently underway. A&J’s doors will open in October 2012 for an initial three month tenure.


If you require further information about A&J, to organise workshops, tours or events please contact Theo Adamson: or call him on: +44 (0)20 7482 8044.

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The Team:


GD/HTA is a core team of Graphic Designers supported by the multidisciplinary architecture and design team HTA. GDHTA specialise in visualising and communicating built spaces and places and on projects that vary in scale from business cards to building facades. The dynamic is simple; the team enjoy working together to create great projects. Although small, GDHTA often collaborate with others to deliver the best work possible.

HTA is a multi-disciplinary design consultancy to the residential development and regeneration sectors. They are committed to collaboration in the pursuit of sustainable placemaking; creating residential and mixed use places which are lastingly successful economically, socially and environmentally as well as aesthetically.

Tom Tobia

Tom works with people, organisations, local authorities and institutions to design and explore ideas for social change.

Tom’s award winning work has seen him set up community centres, design museum exhibitions, run markets and tackle challenges associated with youth employment, ageing populations and habitat destruction. Tom jointly holds the Guinness World Record for designing and building the world’s largest Bee Hotel (along with the residents of the Thames Ward Estate, Barking). He has helped to launch several social enterprises, is the co-founder of ‘Community Kite Project’, youth entrepreneurship program ‘Meet Market’ and is an occasional chef.

Christopher Jarratt

Christopher’s work encourages the use of imagination. As a child we dream up fantastical ideas and stories, looking at objects questioning why things are the way they are. A child can find a slightly bent branch on a woodland walk and turn it into a bow, sword, machine gun, magic wand or drawing implement. As we get older this freedom of thought dimishes, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Imagination does not dwindle, we just need to remember to use it.

Christopher’s multi-award winning work has gained international recognition and has been extensively published and exhibited worldwide.

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