Community Collaboration Results in Brilliant Transformation

    This is a project you truly have to see to believe.

    Artist Matthew Mazzotta, the Coleman Center for the Arts, and community in York, Alabama, collaborated to transform a blighted property into a 100-seat open air theater.

    From the project’s website:

    In January of 2011 Matthew Mazzotta began working with the Coleman Center for the Arts (CCA.) Adopting the CCA methodology of developing projects through social engagement, Mazzotta invited area residents to join him for a creative discussion about public space. Sitting in an outdoor living room nestled inside of orange cones on the middle of Avenue A, area residents brought items from their homes to lend to the outdoor living room. The conversation that followed highlighted participants love for York but also their frustration with the community’s loss of public space, the spread of blight and the lack of racially integrated and secular social spaces. The conversation served as an impetus for “Open House” which has transformed a blighted property into a public outdoor theater in downtown York.

    Mazzotta’s sculpture is a theater in the shape of a house. An unlikely object, in it’s closed state it is a neatly cubed house made with the faded pink siding that covered it’s blighted predecessor. An iconic, “housey” looking house, it projects the very idea of a house itself. Shelter, charm, warmth, safety. When transformed it unfolds in ten pieces on specially commissioned industrial hinges into seats for nearly 100 people. The seats, graduated for height, face a raised earthen stage. It is a public space made from the remnants of a privately owned blighted property, like those that still litter the landscape across rural Alabama and so many other parts of America, urban and rural alike.


    The project made me think of Michael Hickey’s series of posts on adaptive reuse, and the power of community collaboration.

    Watch as the whole community plans and then executes this inspiring remodel.

    OPEN HOUSE – Matthew Mazzotta 2013 from matthew mazzotta on Vimeo.

    (Hat tip to Center for Community Progress for including this great story in their newsletter!)

    Jodi Weinberger served as assistant editor of Shelterforce from 2013 to 2014.


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