“Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.”
– Henry David Thoreau
Assemble is an architecture, design and property development company focused on small footprint projects. We also provide to clients architecture services via Fieldwork and creative services via Local Peoples. We are a tight-knit team based in Northcote, an inner-city spot in Melbourne. With backgrounds in architecture, design, property and finance, we joined forces in 2010, spurred to action by the increasing absence of well-designed housing in Australian cities.
For the best part of two decades, our friends and peers have negotiated soaring rents, open-for-inspections so busy that a bouncer would not be out of place and decreasing housing affordability as property prices have soared. For those lucky enough to be in a position to buy, the traditional Victorian terrace has become increasingly out of reach and arguably out-of-date, leaving apartments and townhouses as the only affordable options. Sadly, the design and quality of new apartments and townhouses in Australia has largely been driven by the needs of investors, rather than the needs of residents. All around Melbourne, developments are going up with eye-watering exteriors, thin walls, minimal natural light, poor quality fixtures and flimsy workmanship; built with a lack of care for future residents and disregard for the fabric of our city.
We founded Assemble to counter this trend by providing small footprint housing designed for the needs and wants of residents. We believe that small footprint living is not a compromise. You can and should be able to live the fullest of lives in a small but well-considered space – and we know this through direct experience. The three directors of Assemble have lived and worked in apartment cities such as Copenhagen, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Berlin and Brussels, witnessing the complete and complex lives lived by fellow apartment dwellers who had families, kept pets, worked, studied, shared picnics, tinkered with bicycles, grew indoor plants, threw parties and shared spaces. What made these apartment cities and spaces work? Good design, robust materials and buildings that were built to last. But in addition to the physical built environment, what made these people and places work was the more intangible but equally important culture of collectivity. Neighbours were encouraged to interact in and through what was shared, while having a sense of agency and ownership of their own space.
This knowledge of and fondness for small footprint living informs the Assemble ethos. We listen to the needs and wants of our peers and will build homes for them, taking just as much pride in their homes as our own, mi casa es su casa.
In the spirit of fostering the culture of living closer together, Assemble publishes Assemble Papers, an online publication for small footprint living, covering culture, art, design, urban planning, the environment and financial affairs. Beyond bricks and mortar, Assemble Papers reflects our broader passions and beliefs in inventive yet practical approaches to sustainable living.
The three directors of Assemble (pictured left to right) are Giuseppe Demaio, Ben Keck and Joachim Holland.
“Design is people.”
– Jane Jacobs
Joachim Holland – Director
Joachim (Quino)’s background is in architecture. A keen cyclist and gardener, Quino’s weekends are spent 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 around Ollantaytambo near Machu Picchu. As part of his design work and directorship with Assemble, he is currently collaborating with the local community on a masterplan for Ollantaytambo, to preserve its cultural heritage.
Quino is a former Associate at Jackson Clements Burrows, an award winning and internationally-recognised architectural practice based in Melbourne. Quino completed his Masters in Architecture and Urban Design (First Class Honours) at the University of Melbourne and The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. He was awarded the SJB prize for Top Masters Design Student in the state in 2004 and a travelling scholarship to The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1998.
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. During his studies in Copenhagen, Quino fell in love with Nordic design and almost married a Dane. For 3 years, he lived in a 30 square metre apartment which ignited his interest in European-style apartment living.
Ben Keck – Director
Ben’s background is in finance, property and law. More recently, during the Assemble studio fit out, he discovered a natural talent for the white washing of plywood. Having broken his leg playing soccer three years ago, he’s now returned to the field with shin guards and a titanium rod in his right leg. Ben is the only clean-shaven director of Assemble.
Ben currently works part-time with Charter Keck Cramer (Charter) in the Corporate Real Estate team where he’s involved in the project management of Telstra’s national property divestment portfolio. Prior to joining Charter, Ben was an Associate at UBS in the Investment Banking Division, within the Real Estate, Consumer Products and Industrials sector teams (2007-2010) 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).
His year spent on exchange in Berlin opened his eyes to urban design and sparked his interest in small footprint living. Ben reckons Melbourne is one of the best cities in the world and is passionate about making it even better.
Giuseppe Demaio – Director
Giuseppe (Pino)’s background is in design, branding and marketing. While he is well known for the creativity he offers high-profile clients through his agency The Locals, 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. Like Quino, Pino collects vintage bikes (and parts). However, few of Pino’s bicycles are complete and he considers them works of art – riding them is therefore frowned upon.
As Principal and Creative Director of The Locals communications agency (2009-current), Pino works across design, film, retail and experiential design for some of the most respected local and international brands including Alpha 60, Nike, Electroinc Arts (EA), Adidas (Europe & Australia), L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival, Levi’s (Europe), ING Real Estate, Fat, United Colors Of Benetton, Roving Enterprises, Superfuture.com, Vice Magazine, Addict Magazine, Belgian Fashion Week, Bread And Butter (Barcelona), Publicis Digital, Qantas and Calvin Klein.
Prior to The Locals, Pino was Senior Art Director of Nike EMEA, Global Football Brand Design Team (2007-2009). Pino has completed his Bachelor of Business in Marketing and Bachelor of Design (Dean Scholar) at Monash University.
Pino 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.) He studied at the prestigious Fabrica design research centre in Italy, publisher of the iconic Colors Magazine. Pino 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 neighborhoods with a strong sense of community. He looks forward to the day when more areas of Melbourne can share in these traits. A hallowed pastime is preserving and curing meat – his pancetta is the stuff of legends and a household favourite.
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.
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