How to live in a shopping center for 4 years without anyone noticing (7 photos)

12 December 2023

In 1999, a huge (130 thousand sq. m.) Providence Place shopping center was built in Rhode Island. The center was located above the river, it had 160 stores and the project cost half a billion dollars. It was planned to become a shopping center for residents of the entire city.

While construction was underway, local artist Michael Townsend saw something strange. He was running in the morning just past a construction site and saw a site that looked unusual. Near the river there were two large walls that did not touch each other and there was a gap that led to a rather large and empty room. All this seemed like a mistake by the builders.

Michael simply noted this fact and continued jogging.

But four years later, in 2003, new developers came who became interested in the city of Providence, seeing the obvious success of the shopping center. They began to study the space for a new location for a new shopping center. As a result, they chose the historic factory district, where Michael Townsend lived.

Residents of the area tried to protect their homes and area for two years, but it was pointless. This whole situation inspired the artist, who, calling on his colleagues for help, decided to demonstrate how much housing is being selected for the construction of shopping centers.

A group of artists planned to live inside Providence Place for a week and never leave it. They had to find a space that the shopping center security guards would not see. And it was then that Michael remembered that strange room he had noticed on a walk. It wasn’t just there, they didn’t even bother to cover it with anything.

It was a strange and very long room that could be entered directly from the street. A few tens of meters, climbing a stepladder and now you are already in the shopping center. The builders dumped garbage in this room six years ago. The size of the room was about 75 square meters.

When the artists realized that the room had good potential, they decided to turn it into a full-fledged residential apartment and stay in it forever. But first - cleaning!

Michael and his friends began quietly cleaning out their future home, then they stocked up on provisions, installed lamps, necessary wires, bed linen, cutlery, well, in general, everything they needed to live. They even managed to build a cinder block wall so that from the street and from the shopping center it would not be visible that someone lived in the former void.

A little later they even managed to connect to the shopping center's electricity. There was only no established plumbing system, but due to the fact that Providence Place had a night movie theater, no one saw anything strange in men visiting the restroom.

Cozy, don't you agree?

They managed to drag a sofa, a sideboard and other large-sized furniture right through the corridors of the shopping center, merging with the customers.

The artists decided not to bring anyone into their shelter so as not to attract attention. The home became so comfortable that people spent several weeks in a row there. Michael’s team, of course, understood and expected that the shopping center security guards would eventually find them. But weeks passed, they were replaced by months, and then years. For four years, the artists' refuge remained undetected and the eight people who spent a huge amount of time there simply exhaled and began to settle down. They planned to install plumbing, install a water tank so that they would have a kitchen and a bathroom with a toilet.

But in 2007, someone robbed the apartment, taking away a game console and paintings. After this, the comrades came to the decision that they would no longer walk through the shopping center, but Townsed soon broke this rule himself. The artist Yaffa from Hong Kong came to visit Michael and he really wanted to show her his project, which took him four whole years. And he took her to the apartment during the day, right across Providence Place.

Jaffa was delighted with the excursion and so, they were almost ready to leave, but outside the door they heard the crackling of walkie-talkies, and after it the guards broke into the room and caught the couple. It turned out that the shopping center hired two new security workers and it was they who found the room. Then they started watching the entrance to catch the criminals red-handed.

Michael Townsed

Police atwas at the scene and after interrogation, Yaffa was cleared of charges, but Michael did not get off so easily. The owners of the shopping center wanted to jail him on numerous counts, including trespassing.

The prosecutor read out all the things in the artists' apartment and this long list impressed the judge so much that he was no longer so interested in the charges. He was sincerely amazed at the courage and arrogance of Michael and the company. Moreover, he was so impressed that in the end he said that the creation of this secret apartment was not a crime at all. And instead of the term and fine that the owners of Providence Place were counting on, the judge said that such penetration was a minor offense and released Michael in peace.

Michael Townsed

But Michael was forever banned from visiting Providence Place and its surrounding areas. The ban is still in effect and the artist still cannot enter there, although he lives practically next door.

Do you think it was a crime or just such an unusual performance that lasted for several years? In the end, Michael and his friends did not steal anything from the shopping center and lived in an empty area that would most likely still be littered with construction debris.

Add your comment
  • bowtiesmilelaughingblushsmileyrelaxedsmirk

You might be interested in: