It's been a tough year for the British high street. The recession, along with a rise in online shopping and the popularity of 'mega-malls' such as London's Westfield and Westfield Stratford City, has forced many retailers including Thornton's and Habitat to close branches up and down the country. Where furniture stores and chocolate shops once stood, empty retail outlets are now a stark reminder of a beleaguered retail industry. But Brent Council in northwest London has come up with a novel scheme for using these empty lots in the run-up to Christmas and beyond. The council has got together with the Architecture Foundation and is asking up-and-coming designers and architects to create an 'animated advent calendar' through a series of window installations along Willesden High Road.

New Windows for Willesden Green will pair Local shop owners with emerging young designers to produce an advent calendar of window displays in Willesden with a new 'Willesden Window' opening each day in the 25 days running up to Christmas. But the initiative will carry on beyond the festive season. As well as creating window displays along Willesden High Road, the Council also hopes that the project will provide designers with other small-scale commissions in the area and even help establish new creative businesses. From January to March the organisers will be looking to place new tenants in vacant properties along the High Road.

The project is funded by the Greater London Authority,s Outer London Fund, and is being delivered for Brent Council and Design for London by The Architecture Foundation, in collaboration with Meanwhile Space and Blue Consulting.

The Architecture Foundation's Director Sarah Ichioka said of the project, 'We hope that the initiative will benefit local people, attract new audiences, and bring long term cultural invigoration and economic uplift to the Willesden Green area.'

For more information and to get involved, visit the website.