Boarded-up Houses

The aim of Katharina Fitz’s project is to create a conscious reflection on vacant houses and an awareness of the constant structural changes of our 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). It is a problem not only in Europe but as well in many countries around the world. Large scale vacancy in cities can have many different reasons, often being 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 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. Boarded-up streets and empty houses in general create a unwelcoming and cold atmosphere within the city, they convert neighbourhoods into places nobody wants to inhabit, often affected by crime and vandalism. 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.

Katharina Fitz, <i>Boarded-Up Houses</i>
Katharina Fitz, Boarded-Up Houses
The aims of the project is to create a conscious reflection of vacant houses and an awareness of the constant structural changes of our cities. Fitz would like to initiate a discussion about how we imagine the cities of our future and how we can find innovative solutions for reusing vacant real estate to provide affordable housing, considering the potential of existing empty homes. 
Additionally to the photos a series of videos invites us to experiencing the place in another way, taking us on a journey through these unknown places.
Katharina Fitz finished her studies of photography and film at the Sant Ignasi Institute of Barcelona in 2008 and is currently studying a Master of Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University in the United Kingdom. From 2008 to 2014 she has been living and working in Berlin and moved to Nottingham in 2016, after receiving a project funding from the Austrian Government to work on a long-term project about “Boarded-up Houses” in the UK. Her work has been awarded at the Lens Culture Exposure Awards in 2017, the International Photography Awards in 2013, 2014 and 2016, at the Felix Schöller Awards and Moscow International Photography Award.

Latest on News

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