RESOLVE have created a collage of collaboration for Tate Liverpool & RIBA North
While 6a architects set to work transforming Tate Liverpool’s dockside warehouses, RESOLVE collective have worked with the gallery and RIBA North to create an ecosystem of community collaboration & material reuse from all that Tate have found in their storage. Bobby Jewell visited & spoke to RESOLVE to find out more about how they work to support thriving local environments.

RESOLVE collective are an interdisciplinary design group that operates across architecture, technology, and art to address social challenges. Led by Akil Scafe-Smith, Seth Scafe-Smith, and Melissa Haniff, the collective have exhibited widely, also leading an undergraduate unit at the Architectural Association, and holding an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Institute of British Architects [RIBA]. Their latest project is a collaboration between the RIBA North and Tate Liverpool, delivered for the contemporary art gallery whilst their Royal Albert Dock home undergoes a much-neeed refurbishment led by 6a architects.

You Get A Car [Everybody Get’s a Car] – hereafter called YGAC – is an infectious collage of reuse and collaboration, showing how much can be done with so little, both in exhibition and with community outreach. The project opened earlier this month, and I visited Liverpool to speak Akil Scafe-Smith, Melissa Haniff, and Nina Jang to find out more about the stories and people involved.

fig.i - 6a architects render of Tate Liverpool. fig.ii - You Get A Car [Everybody Get’s a Car] by RESOLVE collective

With 6a architects’ £30m regeneration works having commenced within the James Stirling and Michael Wilford-designed Tate Liverpool galleries – who in 1985 converted the 1848 Jesse Hartley-designed monumental industrial warehouses into contemporary art galleries – it seemed fitting that YGAC is designed to tackle the issue of institutional waste. The first partnership exhibition between RIBA North and Tate Liverpool, it is a timely response to how creativity can be used to tackle the issue of redundancy and garbage of such institutional change and as a tool to empower others.

Rather than admonish the people and city of Liverpool with a sustainability lecture of facts and figures, as invited residents RESOLVE collective have undergone a process of decanting the Tate galleries to benefit local communities and projects. YGAC is comprised of redundant fixtures and fittings of former Tate exhibitions, now extricated from storage and reused or reimagined to forge relationships with creatives and organisations across Liverpool. It’s an approach which offers an engaging and creative twist that RESOLVE have managed through a collaborative approach, and one that a more insular creative team might not have achieved.


This idea of redistribution came from RESOLVE, and at a crucial time in the redevelopment of the Tate. “We wanted to ask questions of the institution,” said Scafe-Smith, “why do they have all this material and how could we as RESOLVE further examine asymmetries of power and material wealth?” The collective set about speaking with organisations that the Tate Liverpool had established links with, but then also looked further, developing new relationships with projects as varied as Stoneycroft Secret Garden, The Toxteth Seed Library, Aspen Yard studio complex, Homebaked Community Land Trust, and Squash Liverpool eco-friendly hub.

The first giveaway of material from the Tate was an immediate hit, with everything redistributed within an hour. Working with Rule of Threes – a Sefton-based artist-led project organising social connection in the city’s libraries – RESOLVE gave a mixing desk to a Bootle recording studio, TVs to Attitude Dance, and even helped with the simple gesture of giving chairs to a family who needed them. The YGAC title of the project reflects Oprah Winfrey’s 2004 chat show giveaways, but here working at a more equitable and less showy level, working with community and charitable organisations against capitalist and competitive systems. The giveaways themselves local artist Mark Simmonds to create a series of exhibited Risograph prints derived from Super 8 footage of RESOLVE’s decanting of a TV and storage unit. Further giveaways are planned as Tate’s storage is further mined, with another decanting of unused assets planned for 2 March at Kitty’s Launderette in Anfield.


The second component of YGAC is what RESOLVE call fit outs in which material from Tate is used to help partners organisations improve their HQs and offer: For DoES Liverpool – who make equipment and space available to makers and DIY communities – they built a floor to ceiling shelving unit using old timbers from previous exhibition construction; for Vauxhall Law Centre – who offer pro bono, free legal advice service on welfare benefits, debt and housing matters – RESOLVE built a library; and Aspen Yard – a Toxteth creative studio space created by the celebrated Granby Workshop – benefited from a storage unit.

Scafe-Smith joked that this work, which veered away from art project and towards architecture, was “unsexy,” but for RESOLVE this was was less about aesthetic show and more about using their energy and expertise to support strategic needs of organisations without trying to play favourites – in the words of Oprah Winfrey, everybody gets a car.

“These aren’t sob stories,” said Melissa Haniff, “no group is desperate and they could have just turned us down.” This speaks to the sincerity of RESOLVE’s mindset, but also to the resilience of the partner community groups, Scafe-Smith adding that “Liverpool is resourced by this DIY spirit, within landscapes of historic state disinvestment, institutional disinvestment, and exclusion.” The success of RESOLVE building relationships is shown through videos community groups made with local filmmaker Darren Brady and through gifts they have made to the exhibition, for example Pagoda Arts – a charity platforming Chinese art and culture – offering works in celebration of the Chinese lunar year of the horse.


For the design of YGAC, RESOLVE looked to the lockers that Tate Liverpool workers used to keep their personal belongings while on a shift at the gallery. The actual lockers, covered in stickers and personal notes, were used by RESOLVE within the gallery space, but with newly created stickers – the only new work they produced – to visualise underlying narratives. Together, they provide for a mass of colour and social commentary, even referencing history of Tate seen through political cartoons dating back to the closure of the Tate & Lyle’s Liverpool refinery in 1981.

This use of lockers makes for a nice visual progression upon the aesthetics of reuse, which often relies on the symbolism of construction timber and scaffolding to serve an aesthetic point. It invites other creatives to further develop the conversation of what could represent architectural and social re-use, so as to avoid falling into cliché ant tropes, inviting a continual reinvention so reuse might remain integrated with how we visualise, design, and install gallery exhibitions.

At a time of institutional and governmental censorship and protectionism, it’s important to observe that the first set of stickers noticeable on YGAC lockers are for Palestine Liberation – now tragically more topical than in June 2023, when RESOLVE pulled their exhibition and public programme at the Barbican Centre, citing repeated negative encounters with staff and censorship of a Palestinian speaker.

“It’s intrinsic to our practice,” said Scafe-Smith, something that Tate Liverpool admirably respect. The inclusion of this material is more poignant and necessary, given the ongoing war and invasion into Palestine by Israeli forces, and because of ongoing discussions around concerns that Arts Council England might limit political freedom of funded organisations or individual artists.

On RESOLVE working with large organisations, Haniff says it hasn’t put them off working with institutions, so long as they can “use the institution as a tool to give those hidden communities a voice.” In fact, RESOLVE praise Tate Liverpool staff, from the communications team to front of house and art handlers, Scafe-Smith saying that “the entire show is informed by everyone we met.” This energy can be read in the display, where even a fun exercise like emotional maps of Liverpool drawn by staff make for an effective way to engage with an audience about how Liverpool is perceived by their own staff. - Mann Island, designed by Broadway Malyan. fig.vii - You Get A Car [Everybody Get’s a Car] by RESOLVE collective. fig.viii - 6a render of Tate Liverpool’s future entrance

I felt a little spoilt by the amount of time RESOLVE gave to me to explain everything and every individual in loving detail, to the point I was a little concerned day-to-day visitors may not appreciate the same depth of understanding. While 6a architects’ renewal of Tate Liverpool is designed to better support how the gallery invites the public into their spaces, and develop stronger connections with the city and its communities, the home of RIBA North – in Mann Island, a Broadway Malyan-designed geometric block – doesn’t’ seem to suffer from pulling in new audiences. RESOLVE discovered through their installation period that people would simply walk in and immediately engage with the team, a testament to the friendliness of Liverpudlians as well as a show of how the city’s docks are read as a genuinely public, civic realm.

YGAC exemplifies what RESOLVE are all about as a genuine and affable group of six young practitioners – as well as the directors, the team is made up of members Jana Dardouk, Nina Jang, Lauren-Loïs Duah – and part of a wider network of changemaking organisations. Haniff explains that this “means something to us on a personal and a professional level.” Citing and Birmingham-based Civic Square CIC and artist-led social justice organisation MAIA, as well as Skin Deep Media CIC, who facilitate cultural production for diverse communities, Haniff says RESOLVE are part of a growing ecosystem of groups dedicated to building and empowering people across the UK’s regions.

“We’re seeing the benefit of it, and it’s not monetary and it’s not fame focused,” Haniff explains, “it’s just seeing people thrive in their environments – there’s space for us all and it’s bigger than all of us.”

fig.ix - RESOLVE collective, l-r: Jana Dardouk, Melissa Haniff, Seth Scafe-Smith, Nina Jang, Akil Scafe-Smith &  Lauren-Loïs Duah


RESOLVE is an interdisciplinary design collective that combines architecture, engineering, technology & art to address social challenges. They have delivered numerous projects, workshops, publications & talks in the UK & across the world, all of which look toward realising just & equitable visions of change in our built environment.

Much of RESOLVE’s work aims to provide platforms for the production of new knowledge and ideas. An integral part of this way of working means designing with and for young people and under-represented groups in society. RESOLVE's project portfolio ranges from architecture/urban design projects to community support work, from artist installations to research publications. They have worked critically with numerous art institutions including S1 Gallery (Sheffield), the Mosaic Rooms (London), Het Nieuwe Instituut (Rotterdam), Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt & SAAVY Contemporary (Berlin), Kunstverein Braunschweig (Braunschweig), Wellcome Collection, V&A Museum, Tate Modern & Mosaic Rooms (London); & other fellow community-focused organisations such as SADACCA (Sheffield), Skin Deep (London), MAIA (Birmingham), & Mansions of the Future (Lincoln).

They also lead an undergraduate unit at the Architectural Association, were Research Fellows at the Het Niuewe Instituut in 2020 & are Honorary Fellows of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Members of the collective hold numerous trustee & advisory positions, including Chair of Theatrum Mundi, trustee at Participatory City & advisor for Wysing Arts Centre.

6a architects was founded by Tom Emerson and Stephanie Macdonald in 2001. The practice has gained an international reputation for its housing, cultural, educational & mixed-use projects. Sometimes described as architect detectives, the studio finds new connections between materials, landscape, climate, history & culture. Drawing on social histories, construction traditions, contemporary art & fashion, projects emerge firmly rooted in their place.

2019 saw the opening of the studio’s third phase of work with South London Gallery for the SLG Fire Station in Peckham (2019), awarded an riba National Award and the expansion of MK Gallery (2019). In 2020, two mixed-use towers on the waterfront in Hamburg were completed and two flagship stores for jw Anderson opened in Soho and Seoul. The studio has won multiple awards, notably winning the Schelling Medal & nominated for the Stirling Prize 2017 for its studio complex for photographer Juergen Teller (2016) for which it won the RIBA London Building of the Year Award 2017. In 2018, Tom Emerson was awarded the Conrad Ferdinand Meyer Prize & Stephanie Macdonald was a finalist for the International Women in Architecture Award. The New Year Honours 2021 saw both recognised with an OBE for Services to Architecture & Education, & Services to Architecture respectively.

6a is currently working on significant projects around the world. In 2022, 6a was appointed to re-imagine Tate Liverpool. 2022 also saw the opening of CARA, the Centre for Art Research & Alliances in New York, Holborn House, a new community centre in central London & A2_B2, two studio buildings for the Design District in Greenwich. In 2020, Victoria State granted permission for 6a’s first building in Australia, a 13-storey mixed use, landscaped building in Collingwood, Melbourne which will begin construction in 2024.

6a architects’ work is published extensively and internationally. In 2020, the influential Italian magazine, Domus, included 6a in the 50 Best Architects in the world today. The practice’s first book, Never Modern, was published in 2014 (Park Books, Zurich) & a first monograph published in 2017 by El Croquis. A monograph by A+U, Japan was published in September 2022.

Bobby Jewell is a Glasgow-based & works in architectural comms around climate emergency. hosting an ambient radio shows for Resonance Extra, Clyde Built and elsewhere.


You Get A Car [Everybody Get’s a Car] by RESOLVE collective for Tate Liverpool & RIBA North is at RIBA North, Liverpool, until 14 July with free entry.

RESOLVE will continue building with local communities developing work will be added to the walls of the show over its duration, with further giveaways and public programme events.

Further details available at:


figs.i,viii Renders of Tate Liverpool. © 6a architects.
Sed consequat ante eget magna rhoncus ultricies laoreet sit amet odio. © Lorem Ipsum
figs.ii-v,vii RESOLVE collective © Tate. Photograph by Joe Humphrys. Mann Island by Broadway Malyan. © Broadway Malyan.
fig.ix RESOLVE collective. © Vishnu Jayarajan.

publication date
23 February 2024

6a architects, Arts Council England, Aspen Yard, Attitude Dance, Broadway Malyan, The Barbican Centre, Darren Brady, Community, Construction, Jana Dardouk, DIY, DoES Liverpool, Lauren-Loïs Duah, Ecosystem, Granby Workshop, Melissa Haniff, Jesse Hartley, Homebaked Community Land Trust, Nina Jang, Bobby Jewell, Kitty’s Launderette, Liverpool, Lockers, Mann Island, Network, Pagoda Arts, Palestine, Redistribution, Reuse, RESOLVE, RIBA North, Royal Albert Dock, Rule of Threes, Akil Scafe-Smith, Seth Scafe-Smith, Mark Simmonds, Stickers, Squash Liverpool, James Stirling, Stoneycroft Secret Garden, Tate & Lyle, Tate Liverpool, Toxteth Seed Library, Vauxhall Law Centre, Waste, Michael Wilford, Oprah Winfrey, Workers