Sale of Assemble’s Turner Prize-Winning Homes Snubs ‘White Middle Class Investors’

Don't try to flip these.

The Granby Market on Cairns Street in Liverpool, on July 3, 2015, part of Assemble's Turner Prize-winning community revitalization project. Photo courtesy Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images.

While this year’s Turner prize winner has just been announced, last year’s winning project is in the news again this week.

Three Liverpool houses renovated as part of Studio Assemble’s 2015 Turner Prize-winning Granby Four Streets project have sold. Each came with a price tag of £90,000 ($114,600) and a contract complete with a clause stipulating that, if they are re-sold, it must be for less than market value. The BBC calls it an “anti-gentrification” clause.

Granby Four Streets is a collaborative project between residents of the Liverpool neighborhood of Granby, and Assemble, the London-based, 18-member collective whose “working practice seeks to address the typical disconnection between the public and the process by which places are made.”

The purpose of the project was to turn abandoned homes into affordable, livable housing. Eight houses were renovated in total, and three more are underway. Five have been let to renters, and three, on Cairns Street, have sold.

The Turner Prize is one of the world’s most prestigious art awards, so it wouldn’t be out of the question that the label could turn the homes into hot commodities. As a pre-emptive measure by the community, each house is protected with the “anti-gentrification clause.”

“We don’t want them to become ‘Turner houses’, if you know what I mean,” Erika Rushton, chair of the Granby Four Streets Community Land Trust, told the BBC.

Priority was, and will always be, given to Liverpool locals. The criteria of who gets the homes favors people with a connection to the area, who are first-time buyers in need of affordable housing.

The land trust’s vice-chair Hazel Tilley has lived on Cairns Street for 25 years. She tells the BBC, “What we don’t want is gentrification. We don’t suddenly want all the white middle class investors… it’s really important that we don’t price out the people who live here.”

A better option for non-locals who want to live with a piece of prizewinning design: buy a product from the Granby Workshop, which produces handmade homegoods like the ones that furnish the Cairns Street houses.

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