Two week research and design studio on city development and the roles of architecture, property and capital
Since the start of de-regulation policies in the 1990 and the following rise of Neo-liberalism, architecture and urban planning have been increasingly influenced and dictated by capital markets, investors and private equity. If the financial crash of 2007 showed anything, it was that real-estate - and therefore architecture and urban development - had become fully intertwined with capital markets and the global economy. Over-fed on sub-prime real estate mortgages, the financial markets nearly collapsed. In the Netherlands, this crisis led to the unemployment of 50% of the Dutch architects and to 8 years of a near complete building freeze. During this period, the Dutch government (but also more governments in Europe) retreated even further from the role of initiator and client for architecture and urban development, leaving the initiative in real estate and the build environment to ‘the market’ and taking on the role as facilitator.
Now, with the real estate market back in full swing, it is becoming clear what these gradual changes have done to the way the city is being shaped. Market forces are indeed taking the initiative. The omnipresence of capital as a driving force seems to be a given. In many instances the role of the architect and urban planners has been reduced to that of concept designer of the development, often leaving out the classical roles of technical detailing and building site supervision.
On a spatial level, there obviously are many aspects one can critical about: the diminished role of public planning offices, the increased gentrification of the inner cities, the rising housing prices and the commodification of informal, bottom up creative districts. But wether we like it or not, to be an architect or urban planners today means that you are functioning fully within the reality of Neo-liberal capital markets.
Since the crisis, we’ve seen architects and urban planners trying to find ways to deal with this new reality; wether it’s the bottom up, self-initiated, unsolicited proposals made for clients and cities, or the initiation of building groups and client collectives or even the initiation of complete (re)developments by architects as a way to claim back a role in the building proces. By doing so, many of these architects and urban planners have gained knowledge and insight into the way projects are realized and how to structure and use the powers that shape the city to create great projects. In the classical architecture and urban planning education, little attention is typically given to these kind of projects. Architecture and urban planning is typically focused more of the physical manifestations of the design then the strategical and financial structuring that could drive the realization of the design. In architecture and urban planning education, there is also rarely attention given to the role of clients, let alone to capital as a force that shapes our build environment.
In this two week workshop, we want to critically explore and uncover the role of capital in the way our cities and buildings are being shaped. We will look at the city through the lens of global capital in order to understand how we could use that view in order to shape our vision of a better city. We will do that by using the classical economic analyses of the city by researching the roles of Property (land and real estate), Labour (in this case, architecture and design) and Capital (finance).
For this workshop we will use Rotterdam as site, which, due it’s partial destruction during WWII, has over the last 70 years been a rich testing ground for real estate development experiments.
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The course will be cancelled and refunded in case less than 10 participants enrol. Participants will be informed before the 16th of September 2019.
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