As the great public works projects of earlier ages that have served our cities fall into disrepair and, eventually, are knocked down or sink into material obscurity, they are increasingly replaced by private spaces, often funded by ‘outside’ investors who build not for people, community or nation but for profit. Construction projects, pitched in terms of ‘return on investment’, are only valued to the point at which they do not contribute to a bottom line. The majority lacking public access, these spaces are revealed as primarily economic rather than cultural zones. In a sense, the city has become striated with dividing lines, often invisible, that begin to segregate action and reaction according to specific spatial requirements. The ‘wrong’ actions in the ‘wrong’ places provoke terror alerts and institutional panic.
The restructuring of the Isle of Dogs and the City of London as global financial capitals is an indication of the narrow range of vision and spatial politics that we can expect from architecture built simply to facilitate the flow of funds. In these spaces, all things must continually move. People, goods and money are conflated into a network of urban financial circuitry. When people stop, linger, question or instigate kinks in production, private-security personnel quickly sweep in to interrogate the reason for the stoppage and, God willing, assure that the free market retains its freedom.
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Published in Photoworks Issue 19, 2012
Commissioned by Photoworks