Politics

The Architecture of Neoliberalism by Douglas Spencer review – privatising the world
The Architecture of Neoliberalism by Douglas Spencer review – privatising the world

Sell off social housing and build on Hyde Park? Meet the breed of architects giving free-market ideology a physical form

Architects seldom make the front pages of newspapers. Patrik Schumacher recently managed it, though, getting himself on to the cover of the Evening Standard after a speech in which he advocated privatising all social housing and all public space – including Hyde Park – and espoused intensified gentrification of inner city areas. His advocacy on behalf of plutocrats reached hilariously villainous levels when he said of second home owners in London: “even if they’re only here for a few weeks and throw some key parties, these are amazing multiplying events”.

This is “neoliberal” rhetoric at its purest. Neoliberalism – a form of free market fundamentalism that effectively came to power at the turn of the 1980s with the election of such enthusiasts for Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan – is an unusual concept, largely because it extends out of economics and into philosophy and the way people see the world. As Thatcher once said, “economics is the method, the aim is to change the soul”. According to Douglas Spencer, one of the best places to see this is architecture.

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