In Europe today, there are around 11 million empty and unoccupied homes, 610,000 of which are in England. 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, this project highlights the sheer volume of long-term vacancies in the UK. It is a critical reflection on the unoccupied homes in England—as well as Europe—and their relation to the social housing market.

In times past, these historical houses symbolized the collective past of a flourishing industry and a strong working-class community. Nowadays, hundreds of houses in fairly good condition within former industrial cities stand abandoned and boarded-up awaiting demolition.

From an aesthetic point of view, boarded-up windows create a melancholic, mysterious, and sculptural atmosphere. In Gaston Bachelard’s book “The Poetics of Space,” windows are described as the souls of houses: when lit up at night, they give us access to their inner lives, their histories, and memories of past times.

By contrast, these images radiate uncertainty in relation to their future, which produces 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.

—Katharina Fitz

Editor’s Note: Fitz’s project was recognized by the jury of the LensCulture Exposure Awards 2017—don’t miss the work from all 44 of the outstanding, international talents!

If you’re interested in seeing more of Fitz’s videos, you can find them on her YouTube channel.