Boarded-up Houses by Katharina Fitz

In Europe today there are around 11 million empty and unoccupied homes, of which 600,000 are in England (200,000 were classed as long-term empty in 2016). Large-scale vacancy in cities is often a sign of great upheaval within the urban space.

Focusing on typical Victorian working-class terraced houses in post-industrial Liverpool and Manchester, the project highlights the sheer volume of long-term vacancies in England to create a critical reflection about the extensive amount of unoccupied homes in England, and in Europe, in relation to the social housing market. Although these historical houses used to symbolize the collective past of a flourishing industry and a strong working class and community, now in some former industrial cities many hundreds of houses in fairly good condition stand abandoned and boarded up, awaiting demolition.

From an aesthetic point of view, boarded-up windows create a melancholic, mysterious, and sculptural atmosphere. Referring to Gaston Bachelard’s book The Poetics of Space, windows are described as the souls of houses when lit up at night, giving us access to their inner life, their history, and memories of past times. The images radiate an uncertainty in relation to the future, producing a sense of instability. The aims of the project are to create a conscious reflection of vacant houses and an awareness of the constant structural changes of our cities.

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