Starting in 2003, an artist committed to building a 750 square foot apartment under a mall in Providence, Rhode Island.
You’ll never believe what happened next.
A Livable Domestic Space
The concept is a staggering one: actually construct, with bricks and mortar, a livable apartment under a mall. Not only did artist Michael Townsend do this, but he was able to live in it undisturbed for 4 years.
The apartment was built in an unused utility space in the mall’s parking lot and was “base-level of comfort, with enough amenities to qualify itself as a livable domestic space.”
The apartment didn’t have running water, nor a working toilet, but it did have a recreational sofa, a Playstation 3, breakfast tables, chairs, lamps, rugs, paintings and a TV. Yes, that’s right: this dude not only built the apartment, but dragged a sofa and a whole raft of furniture in there too – AND didn’t get caught for a whole 4 years. Unbelievable.
Townsend got the idea from Christmas radio advertisements in late 2003 and early 2004:
“…radio ads for the Providence Place Mall featured an enthusiastic female voice talking about how great it would be if you (we) could live at the mall. The central theme of the ads was that the mall not only provided a rich shopping experience, but also had all the things that one would need to survive and lead a healthy life.”
And so Townsend built himself an apartment.
Townsend was caught in 2007, some 4 years after beginning construction and living in the apartment, by the Mall security when leaving the apartment one day. I would pay to see the look on that Mall Cop’s face upon fully realising what he’d stumbled across.
He’s a video from Townsend detailing the project and revealing what it’s like secretly living in a hastily constructed apartment under a mall: