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Assemble

“Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.”  
– Henry David Thoreau

Assemble is a Melbourne-based residential property developer focused on small footprint projects. We work with like-minded developers to share and realise our vision for sustainable cities. Our values and ideas find a voice in our publication Assemble Papers – an online and biannual print journal about the culture of living closer together, across art, design, architecture, urbanism, the environment and financial matters. The three directors of Assemble (pictured L-R) are Giuseppe Demaio, Joachim Holland and Ben Keck. Between them, they also provide to clients architecture services via Fieldwork and brand communication services via Local Peoples.

We’re a tight-knit multi-disciplinary team based in Northcote, where we work beneath our famed origami-inspired ceiling. Our combined experience spans architecture, design, property, finance, publishing, communications, art direction and public programming. We pooled our skills in 2010, spurred to action by the increasing absence of well-designed housing in Australian cities. To counter this trend, Assemble was founded on a shared belief in small footprint living – spaces in which sustainability and the lived experience of inhabitants is central to their design.

Living small is not a compromise, and we know this from direct experience. Between us, we have lived and worked in Copenhagen, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Berlin and Brussels – cities where a vertical life is happily lived by families, pets, bike-lovers and green thumbs alike; where collective culture thrives, and neighbours are encouraged to interact in and through what is shared, all the while having a sense of agency and ownership of their personal space.

Creating a culture of living closer together relies on a human-centred design process. We believe the best ideas and most meaningful solutions come from understanding our community’s needs, hopes and dreams for the future. This means engaging with prospective residents regularly, and early on, and adopting a consultative approach with neighbours and local councils.

People

“Design is people.”
– Jane Jacobs

Joachim Holland – Director

Joachim (Quino)’s background is in architecture. A keen cyclist and gardener, Quino spends his weekends tending and talking to the veggies in his kitchen garden, or riding up and down Mt Donna Buang on a vintage racing bicycle. Born in the UK but raised in Peru, Quino spent his childhood hiking and adventuring in the Andes near Machu Picchu. He lives in a matriarchal household with three strong females, Eugenia his wife and editor of AP, Ida his daughter and Chips the greyhound.

Quino is also a director of Fieldwork – Assemble’s sister architecture company – and a former associate at the award-winning, internationally recognised architectural practice Jackson Clements Burrows. He completed his Masters in Architecture and Urban Design (First Class Honours) between the University of Melbourne and The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art having received a travelling scholarship in 1998 and, upon graduation in 2004, he was awarded the SJB prize for top Masters Design student in the state. Prior to his stint at JCB, Quino worked on a number of significant urban design projects in South America, including the submission to UNESCO for World Heritage Status of the Peruvian village of Ollantaytambo.

A Meccano architect from year dot, Quino’s first word was ‘tractor’. Although not quite an objectophile, he is nonetheless obsessed with tall structures and impressive feats of civil engineering. His childhood hero was (and remains) Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the granddaddy of British bridges and tunnels, including the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol. A greater lover of Nordic design, Quino spent three years living in a 30 square metre apartment in Copenhagen – the catalyst that sparked his interest in European-style apartment living.

 

Ben Keck – Director

Ben’s background is in finance, property and law. During the Assemble studio fit-out, he discovered he also has a natural talent for the white-washing of plywood. Ben is the only clean-shaven director of Assemble.

Ben is also a director of Fieldwork – Assemble’s sister architecture company – where he fulfils a business management role. Prior to working on Assemble and Fieldwork, Ben was involved in the project management of Telstra’s national property divestment portfolio in the Corporate Real Estate team at Charter Keck Cramer. From 2007 to 2010, Ben was an Associate at UBS in the Investment Banking Division within the Real Estate, Consumer Products and Industrial sector teams, where he earned a black belt in Microsoft Excel.

While at university, Ben revitalised a one hundred year-old flip wallet design through his brand Becko. Ben has a Commerce (Honours)/Law degree from the University of Melbourne and holds the unofficial Melbourne Law School Prize for most hours slept in class (he is a vocal advocate for the siesta as a productivity maximiser).

A one-year exchange in Berlin opened Ben’s eyes to the potential of well-designed cities and sparked his interest in small footprint living, a movement which he hopes to contribute towards and advance in Melbourne, where he lives with his partner Chelsea and son Reuben.

 

Giuseppe Demaio – Director

Giuseppe (Pino)’s background is in brand design and strategy. While he is well known for the creativity he offers high-profile clients through his agency Local Peoples, he is also famous for his beard – one of the most coveted face-warmers in Melbourne. He is regularly mistaken for Ned Kelly, Santa Claus or Yosemite Sam. Pino is an avid collector vintage bikes, which are considered works of art as well transport, and a hallowed pastime is preserving and curing meat – his pancetta is the stuff of legends and a firm household favourite.

As Principal and Creative Director of Local Peoples, Pino and his team partner with progressive organisations to deliver positive brand and social outcomes. Working across sport, health and social impact and the property sectors design, film, retail and experiential design for some of the most respected local and international brands including Football Federation Australia, Nike, Victorian Department of Health & Healthy Together Victoria, Youth Empowerment Against Aids (YEAH), The World Health Organisation, NCDFREE and The Queensland Eye Institute, Remedy Health Care, Red Bull, RSEA Safety, Australian Unity, The Australian Sports Commission.

In 2013, Giuseppe and his brother Alessandro founded NCDFREE, a global movement against non-communicable diseases (NCDs). NCDs kill 35 million people each year, mainly in poor and marginalised communities. NCDFREE aims to highlight young change-makers working to prevent NCDs through community action, stories and films.

Prior to founding Local Peoples, Pino was Senior Art Director of Nike EMEA, Global Football Brand Design Team until 2009. He undertook a short-lived stint in medicine (the sight of blood makes him faint, so he decided after his first dissection class that his destiny lay elsewhere), and went on to complete his Bachelor of Business in Marketing and Bachelor of Design (Dean Scholar) at Monash University. Pino studied at the prestigious Fabrica design research centre in Italy, which is the publisher of the iconic Colors Magazine, and was editor and art director of Belgian design publication Addict Magazine.

Living and working in Amsterdam, Brussels and Barcelona, Pino came to love well-designed apartments that were in the thick of dynamic neighbourhoods with a strong sense of community. He looks forward to the day when more areas of Melbourne share these traits.

 

Eugenia Lim – Editor, Assemble Papers

Eugenia is the editor of Assemble Papers, our publication exploring the culture of living closer together.

Euge is a serial Wayne’s World watcher and a lover of art that mixes the high and low brows. Her first day job was at KFC. In her youth, she also spent time rinsing out perms and massaging scalps as a teenage hairdresser’s apprentice. Subsequently, she is no longer a fan of deep fried chicken or chemically curled hair.

Euge spends her days scouring the online and real worlds to find interesting people and projects across architecture, art, design, urbanism, the environment, finance and to write about, interview, photograph or collaborate with on Assemble Papers.

Euge has contributed as a writer or been featured as an artist in Three Thousand and other Right Angle publications, UnMagazine, Artlink Magazine, El Pais Newspaper (Spain), Picture Skew, The Age, Figuring Landscapes: artists moving image from Australia and the UK and Site Unseen. Prior to working with Assemble, Euge was a Public Programs Coordinator with the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) and was also awarded an Australia Council for the Arts Emerging Producers in Community (EPIC) position with community cultural development youth arts organisation Visionary Images.

She holds a degree in Creative Arts from Victorian College of the Arts and a Bachelor of Media Arts (Honours) from RMIT University where she now lectures in video art. Euge is a practising video and interdisciplinary artist and her favourite author is Paul Auster. If she had to pick someone to come back as, it would be Sophie Calle.

 

Rachel Elliot-Jones – Head of Community Engagement, Assemble; Creative Producer, Assemble Papers

Anita Delle-Vergini – Community Engagement Assistant

Emily Wong – Editorial Assistant, Assemble Papers

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