‘Visually Stunning’ while Financially Safe
Neoliberalism and Financialization at Canary Wharf
Keywords:financialization, finance capitalism, architectural practice, neoliberalism, Canary Wharf
The links between design and the forces of capitalism, while contingent conditions of practice, are easily elided in architectural discourse. An architectural poster-child of neoliberalism, Canary Wharf, was conceived at a time when global financial markets were deregulating, real estate developers were looking across oceans for more prestigious downtown redevelopment projects, and architectural practices split responsibilities in complex arrangements between a lead designer and teams of consultants. What this article seeks to investigate is a more nuanced understanding of the contingent relationships among the increasing financialization of real estate, a political tide-shift, and the ways in which architects responded to these conditions, both in their designs and in the organization of their practices. How was the financial risk understood, and to what was it seen to be contingent?