The small town of York, Alabama has long been dealing with issues of blight and dwindling population. The residents in this low-income area were unhappy about the abandoned and crumbling homes, as they acted as a metaphor for the state of the community. Attempts were made to assemble residents for a discussion on how to solve these issues, but it became clear that there was no convenient meeting space for this discussion to occur. That’s when the nearby Coleman Center for the Arts got involved.
Sponsored by the Coleman Center for the Arts, placemaking artist Mathew Mazzotta was invited to York to facilitate a series of community dialogues. Mazzotta invited residents to create “living rooms” in public spaces. Residents brought in couches, rugs, and artifacts from their homes to fashion “living rooms” on sidewalks and in parking lots. This atmosphere helped residents feel more comfortable about voicing their opinions, hopes, and desires for the community. Through these Living Room dialogues, the idea for the Open House was born.
Built on the site of an abandoned home, the Open House is a collapsible building shaped like a house which can be transformed into an open-air public gathering space. When in use, the house unfurls to reveal several rows of seating and an open area which can be used for performances, film screenings, or other gatherings. The Open House cannot be opened by one person- it requires a minimum of four people to complete the task, relying on community and cooperation to function. Use of the Open House is free and available to anyone.
Timeline of Project: Seven months
Initiator: The Coleman Center for the Arts, Artist Matthew Mazzotta, residents of York, Alabama
Number of People Served: The Community of York, Alabama- Approx. 2,000 people
The Renewal Project