A cluster of terraced houses in a formerly run-down area of Liverpool has been nominated for the Turner Prize.
The Granby Four Streets project has transformed a corner of Toxteth, saving houses neglected and earmarked for demolition in the wake of the 1981 riots.
The project is the result of a hard-won, 20 year battle by local residents to save the houses.
Residents consistently fought plans for demolition and battled to save the 10 derelict terraced houses on Cairns St in Toxteth.
Over the past 10 years they have cleaned and planted their streets, painted the empty houses, organised a thriving monthly market, founded a Community Land Trust (CLT) and shown their area in a different light.
Ownership of the ten properties has been transferred from Liverpool City Council, through the council’s Homes for £1 scheme, to Granby Four Streets Community Land Trust, whose aim is to reverse the long-term dereliction of Victorian terraced houses and the associated degeneration of communities in Toxteth.
Assemble, a London-based collective of architects, designers and artists, have worked with them to translate their resourceful and DIY attitude into the refurbishment of housing, helping the CLT provide affordable housing for local residents that remains in community ownership.
And it is Assemble’s approach to sustainable development which has caught the eye of the judges of this year’s Turner Prize, which is awarded to a British artist under 50 for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the preceding year.
The houses use simple and low cost materials and include a number of playful, handmade architectural elements that help re-establish the character of the homes following their long neglect.
The fit-out works for the houses is being undertaken with COSPA and Ambition and offer training opportunities for local young people.
As part of the scheme, young people are mentored by local professional tradespeople, who are also volunteering their time, and are supported in working towards achieving a City & Guilds qualification over the course of the project.
Graduates of the scheme will also gain access to further training, work placements and apprenticeships with local employers beyond the project.
Helen Marshall, chief executive at Ambition, said: “Strengthening communities and developing young people’s skills is at the heart of this project, which seeks to find an innovative solution to the prevalence of empty homes – more than 114,00 – and high youth unemployment in the North West.”
The training initiative is being principally funded by the Department of Communities and Local Government, through the Empty Properties Community Grants Programme, with additional support from the Nationwide Foundation.
The winner of the Turner Prize will be announced on 7 December 2015.