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.