Turner Prize-winning houses should not be sold to ‘white middle-class investors’

Houses renovated by Turner Prize-winning design group Assemble will be sold with ‘anti-gentrification’ clauses in the contracts, BBC News reports.

Assemble won the £25,000 prize in 2015 for its work on a group of derelict houses in the Toxteth neighbourhood of Liverpool. The group renovated eight houses owned by a residents-run housing trust. Five have since been let, with the other three selling for £90,000 each, with covenants in their terms of sale stipulating that if sold on in the future, they should be sold below market value.

Erika Rushton, chair of the residents’ group, explained that they wanted to make sure that the houses would continue to be available to local residents. The first three houses have gone “to be people who used to live in the area or children of people who used to live in the area and who want to come back to the area”. Hazel Tilley, the trust's vice-chair and longtime Cairns Street resident told BBC News that, “what we don't want is gentrification. We don’t suddenly want all the white middle class investors. So we’ve also applied criteria to the sale which matches social criteria - a connection with the area, first-time buyer, in need of decent housing at an affordable price.”

Assemble’s Turner Prize win provoked discussion of what could count as art, or the object of a prize for contemporary art. Yet the group’s work finds parallels in the work of other contemporary artists working with communities and the urban fabric, notably Americans Theaster Gates and Rick Lowe. (Read ArtReview magazine’s feature on Gates here.)

The 2016 Turner Prize nominees are Anthea Hamilton, Michael Dean, Helen Marten and Josephine Pryde, with the winner of the £25,000 award announced at a ceremony at Tate Britain on Monday 5 December.

5 December 2016