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Title: The architecture of financial crisis : urban design and capital restructuring in London and Leeds
Author: Moreno, L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8497 7053
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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With the collapse of subprime mortgages in 2007 and the failure of Lehman Brothers in 2008, the global financial crisis brought home the systemic relationship between capital markets and urban development. Yet although the crisis was almost immediately attributed to real estate acting as a nexus linking the deregulation of capital, the privatisation of public goods and the intensification of credit, what has been less clear are how these relationships have been constructed in and through the production of urban space and changes in the architectural form of cities. The thesis attempts to contribute a fresh analysis of the urban dimensions of financialisation, through a detailed examination of the way recent changes in the credit system relate to change in the construction, investment and design of Britain's cities. The hypothesis guiding the research is that urbanism did not merely reflect or represent financial expansion but was a crucial medium enabling the permeation and penetration of the social forms of debt, interest, rent, etc. into the fabric of daily life. Classic works of architectural and geographical theory in the 1970s and 1980s set forward promising models to turn the notion of 'the production of space' into a methodology capable of studying the multidimensional tendencies of capital restructuring. However, this project was, for reasons I discuss, never fully able to make the connections between economy, geography and culture. But the insights the recent crisis has provided about the credit system and real estate gives a new impetus to develop a theoretically informed, empirically grounded investigation into the contemporary relationship between financialisation and urbanism. The British case differs from the US, Ireland and Spain in that what distinguished the UK 'variety' of financial crisis, was not so much the overdevelopment of commercial and residential markets, but a simultaneous growth in property values, and the role this played in leveraging the overexpansion of financial services. Here, the case studies of London and Leeds are chosen to provide detailed insights into both 'global' and 'second' tier cities. The empirical research, comprising field work and nearly 60 in depth interviews with leading figures in the fields of design, policy and investment, is intended not only to identify regional commonalities and discrepancies in the trajectory of urbanism and financial services, but also to help understand the historical political and geographic structuring of capitalism in Britain. Examining the relationship between real estate and urban design the thesis asks: Did the recent era of asset based accumulation generate a new approach to property development and urban design? If so how were new buildings and spaces related to changes in urban economic strategy ? And what does the growing imbrication of urban form and financial capital tell us about the political economic role of architecture and urban design today? In asking these questions the thesis tries to develop a new conceptual approach to understand more precisely the way the uneven geographies, economies and cultures of cities are spatially constructed (and reconstructed) in societies dominated by the rule of debt.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available