Assemble creates “secret garden” within derelict Victorian house in Liverpool

The Turner Prize-winning collective has converted a derelict house into a winter garden  in northern England, completing the project that won the group of architects, designers and artists Britain's highest accolade for art.

Granby Winter Garden is a community space integrated into a cluster of run-down terraced houses in the Liverpool neighbourhood of Granby, which were purchased by Granby Four Streets Community Land Trust to be revived as affordable housing and leisure space. The group brought Assemble on board to create the architectural vision for the project, for which it won the Turner Prize in 2015.  

The space is set in the midst of the now-renovated red-brick Victorian housing, offering “a surreal and unexpected secret indoor garden at the heart of a residential street”, as Assemble puts it. 

“From the street, the two buildings appear unremarkable from the adjacent, red brick two-up, two-down houses; behind the front door is a retained triple height room with a glazed pitch roof, planted with a seasonal garden.”

Neglect brought down the floors of the two neighbouring houses – numbers 37 and 39 – creating a triple-height space that on one side has been converted into an indoor garden, and on the other a multi-storey workshop space and artists' residency. The brick walls are left bare throughout and a glass roof has been pitched overhead, creating the condition of being outside while in. 

A kitchen and project room occupy the ground floor adjacent the garden, and a partial first floor contains an apartment for the artist in residency programme – but can also be rented out to generate funding for the running of the space. The fruits of the first artist in residence, Nina Edge, an almost 2-metre chandelier, hangs from the glass ceiling above the garden. 

Planting was carried out by resident gardener Andrea Ku, and a propagation and potting area at the back of the property will allow her and the community to continue to tend to the space. 

The Winter Garden is the second community space in the neighbourhood, joining the Granby Workshop ceramic studio – which produced homeware and tiles for the renovation of the housing component of the project. Tiles bearing the studio's characteristic abstract marbled patterns cover the bathroom of the apartment and an outdoor rainwater tank used to irrigate the garden. Sales from the workshop feed into the funding channels for the Granby programme, and use of its produce in the Winter Garden – the final fragment of the development – brings the project satisfyingly, both conceptually and visually, full circle.

Granby Winter Garden
Cairns Street, Granby, Liverpool, UK
Granby Four Streets Community Land Trust
Structural engineers:
Structure Workshop
Quantity surveyor:
Mechanical and engineering consultant :
Max Fordham Access Consultant Burdus Access
Horticultural research:
Nina Edge and Andrea Ku
Art commission:
Nina Edge
Granby Workshop
Main contractor:
Merco Developments

Latest on Architecture

Latest on Domus

Read more
China Germany India Mexico, Central America and Caribbean Sri Lanka Korea icon-camera close icon-comments icon-down-sm icon-download icon-facebook icon-heart icon-heart icon-next-sm icon-next icon-pinterest icon-play icon-plus icon-prev-sm icon-prev Search icon-twitter icon-views icon-instagram