There are 300 empty or underused buildings in Preston’s city centre, Open to the Public is an art project and platform that maps all the vacant buildings in the city centre and aims to challenge the way that we look at it.
Until 1st february 2013 Unit 12 of the Guild Hall Arcade is home to a giant map of Preston’s city centre with the 300 vacant buildings blacked out, so you can see how much space is not being used within the city centre.
“This shop was empty,” says Katja van Driel, one of the artists who started working on the project last summer. “We wanted to use it as a platform to talk about this phenomenon and ask what should be done about these spaces? ”
“Since the Tithebarn project did not go ahead there have been a lot of discussions about what to do with the city and we wanted to look at the resources already there and how to open all these buildings. Maybe with the recession there are some new concepts or ideas?”
“During our research we found it hard to find places for people to meet within the city centre. Aside from the Harris Museum and Library there were not many places for people to come together so why not use some of these buildings?”
The project was set up by Katja van Driel and Wouter Osterholt and commissioned by In Certain Places and later this week Open to the Public invites various speakers to debate this topic at Unit 12, Guild Hall Arcade, Lancaster Road, Preston. Events are free and open to the public.
Tuesday 29th January 5pm Talk: Dr Hannah Neate (UCLAN) about Preston Bus Station
Wednesday 30th January 5pm Film Screening: Voices in the Community: Squatting and the Social Centre. After the screening Sam Lewis will be present to discuss his film and about squatting as a strategy to reclaim space in the city.
Thursday 31st January 5pm Discussion: Preston City Council’s Head of Property Management Derek Woods will be answering your questions about the city’s empty buildings and to discuss the causes and effects and potential uses of such spaces.
For updates and programme information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or join Open to the Public on twitter @open_to_public.
Main photo: Elijah McManus