American conceptual artist Matthew Mazzotta has joined forces with the Coleman Center for the Arts and local residents from York, Alabama to convert an old abandoned house into a transformable open-air theater. Dubbed, Open House, the structure which looks like a simple wooden home, actually features separate sections that fold open to create a unique outdoor space, catering for 100 patrons.
Mazzotta told Gizmag that the Open House project was inspired by an idea to create a public living room conversion. He asked local community members to bring something from their own living rooms and donate it to the Open House, thus creating a communal living room of sorts. Bringing the community of York together, volunteers also helped with labor and construction, transforming what was once a local eyesore, situated between the town’s post office and grocery store, into a creative and useful public asset.
Breathing new life into the old abandoned property, Mazzotta erected the convertible Open House by using wood from the original structure, along with the tin roof, pink siding and railroad track ties from a local train yard.
“The metamorphosis of Open House is designed to require cooperation. It takes four people one and a half hours to unfold the structure,” says Mazzotta. “The foundation is made of used railroad ties which anchor the custom fabricated industrial hinges to five rows of stadium seating. The rows of seats fold down with the aid of a hand winch and enough manpower to counter balance the hefty, but agile structure.”
Mazzotta received grants to the total sum of US$30,000 to complete the project, however the immense help he received from volunteers meant that he could keep the labor costs down and finish the project within seven months. “I think it really highlights how important creativity and organization can be,” says Mazzotta. “If people are willing to dream and work, then anything that holds a community back can be seen as something that can potentially bring it forward.”
Open House is currently being used for outdoor film screenings but it can also be used for social gatherings, concerts and live performances. When the theater is not being used, the land around the Open House serves as a public garden space.
But the Open House isn't the first time Mazzotta has come up with a left-of-field public space concept. Two years back he created a dog poo-powered lamp, which was installed at a dog park in Cambridge, Massachusetts.