Katharina Fitz has been searching for empty houses in Liverpool and Manchester. Her photos highlight a problem that goes far beyond the former industrial cities.
In Europe today there are around 11 million empty and unoccupied homes, of which 600,000 are in England (200 000 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 "Boarded-up Houses" highlights the sheer volume of long-term vacancies in England to create a critical reflection about the extensive amount of unoccupied homes in England as well as in Europe in relation to the social housing market.
When before, these historical houses symbolized the collective past of a flourishing industry and a strong working class and community, nowadays in some former industrial cities many hundreds of houses in fairly good conditions 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 of houses 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 their 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.