Designing a Fictitious Commodity: Valuation Practices in Architecture and Urban Planning

Authors: Jonas König*, HafenCity University Hamburg
Topics: Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Economic Geography
Keywords: valuation, marketization, competitions, architecture, urban development
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 2:40 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: St. Charles, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 41st Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The financial crisis 2007 has illustrated the structural interdependency of financial and real estate markets. And yet, little is known on how finance has affected the attributes or value propositions of the very good that is traded on real estate markets. Starting from the assumption that the “fictitious commodification” of land into a valuable investment project does not only require institutional and practical arrangements, but also involves the material transformation of space, the paper aims to scrutinize valuation practices in architecture. In order to do so, the paper conceptualizes architecture as a process from sketch to construction that involves multiple episodes of valuation. In the very episodes, the financial value of the good, i.e. a built structure, is confronted with a range of other values like aesthetics, professional ethos or environmental standards. The paper seeks to elucidate how architectural practice has incorporated financialized valuation criteria, how the very criteria materialize in urban space and how finance, as a consequence, impacts on the temporality of urban development. Empirically, the paper is based on preliminary findings of a research project that focuses on architecture and urban design competitions as a politically contested practice of valuation in which the value of the built environment is negotiated: architecture competitions both prize and price architecture and design.

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