Alex Chinneck unzips an office building

Alex Chinneck Ashford Kent Open Public Installations Design Dezeen 2364 Col 1

British artist Alex Chinneck has transformed an unused building in Ashford, Kent, into a surreal sculpture. The artwork, commissioned by U+I, a specialist regeneration and property developer recognized for creative vision and entrepreneurial flair, creates the illusion that the walls of a 1960s office building have been unzipped to reveal its interior.

In doing so, Chinneck elevates the everyday structure to the status of an artwork, bending its walls and windows as if by magic. The structure was installed onto the front of the building in one night.

Alex Chinneck Ashford Kent Open Public Installations Design Dezeen 2364 Col 4
Alex Chinneck Ashford Kent Open Public Installations Design Dezeen 2364 Col 4
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Alex Chinneck Ashford Kent Open Public Installations Design Dezeen 2364 Col 7
Alex Chinneck Ashford Kent Open Public Installations Design Dezeen Hero
Alex Chinneck Ashford Kent Open Public Installations Design Dezeen Hero

Over the past five years, the artist has completed a succession of major street sculptures including sliding the brick facade off a three-storey property in Margate; constructing a full-size melting house from 7,500 wax bricks in London Bridge; creating the illusion that a stone building on London’s Covent Garden Piazza was floating in mid-air; and inverting a 37-metre electricity pylon to stand on its tip.

Alex Chinneck Ashford Kent Open Public Installations Design Dezeen 2364 Col 0
Alex Chinneck Ashford Kent Open Public Installations Design Dezeen 2364 Col 0
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Alex Chinneck Ashford Kent Open Public Installations Design Dezeen 2364 Col 2
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Alex Chinneck Ashford Kent Open Public Installations Design Dezeen 2364 Col 5

“We are excited to have an artist of Alex’s calibre and renowned reputation bringing his surreal sense of fun to a disused building and completely changing it overnight into a sensational talking point for all who see it,” said Cllr Mike Bennett, Ashford Borough Council portfolio holder for culture.

Alex Chinneck Ashford Kent Open Public Installations Design Dezeen 2364 Col 12
Alex Chinneck Ashford Kent Open Public Installations Design Dezeen 2364 Col 12
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Alex Chinneck Ashford Kent Open Public Installations Design Dezeen 2364 Col 9
Alex Chinneck Ashford Kent Open Public Installations Design Dezeen 2364 Col 1
Alex Chinneck Ashford Kent Open Public Installations Design Dezeen 2364 Col 1

Richard Upton, Deputy Chief Executive at U+I, said: “We have been involved in a number of projects in Ashford and have enjoyed working with Ashford Borough Council on the regeneration of this vibrant town. When we discovered Alex Chinneck was local to the area and producing such ground-breaking work, it was only a matter of time before we had to find an excuse to collaborate. Open to the public is an art piece that chimes with our own values as a business – that property development and regeneration should be about places for people – collaborative, inclusive and authentic.”

Alex Chinneck’s Open to the public is a temporary installation available to view throughout August. Visitors are encouraged to see it before it disappears.

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