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Title: A material history of the City of London, 1945-1993 : architecture, planning and finance
Author: Thomas, A.
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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Much of the current anxiety surrounding the financial system has emerged because of its perceived obscurity, scale and intangibility. The digitalisation and deregulation of the industry since the 1950s has been at the heart of this fear, giving rise to a situation whereby the more complex and rapid financial transactions become, the less visible and less easily regulated they are. Consequently the global economy is often perceived to be a black box within which immaterial capital-flows circulate, unencumbered by the inconveniences of geography or the built environment. Yet the reality of this system is far from friction free. The world of financial services is orchestrated around people and places, co-ordinated through infrastructure and architecture, and accommodated in offices and cities. While the financial transaction itself may be an immaterial act, it relies upon a set of specific material conditions to take place. This thesis is an exploration of those conditions. Through an analysis of the urban and architectural development of the City of London, London's financial district, in the post-war period, the research considers the extent to which there is a relationship between the structure of the financial system and the structure of the environment in which it operates. This thesis is the first comprehensive material investigation of a financial centre to date. Furthermore, it is the first study that can claim to have looked at the recent architectural history of the City of London in any depth. Buttressed by two episodes of destructive violence - World War II and the IRA bombings of the early 90s - which would each herald a new urban paradigm, the research charts the gradual deregulation of the UK finance industry and its manifestation in the built form, socio-spatial arrangement, and cultural milieu of the financial centre. Structured in the shape of a conceptual cross-section, the thesis is organised into four chapters that move from the urban scale of the City, through its streets, across its facades and into the micro-geography of its interiors, in the form of trading floors, offices and furniture. The aim is not to provide a descriptive inventory of buildings and streets, but rather to connect each material layer to the wider economic and regulatory developments in the global economy, thereby creating a constant dialogue between financial place and financial space.
Supervisor: Fraser, M. ; Borden, I. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available