Financial Architectures is a research project to document and reflect on the intricate financial formulas, incentives, and protagonists behind the designs of present-day buildings, cities, and landscapes. Financialization has introduced financial and legal complexities into the capillaries of society, obscuring what and where design interventions have exponential outcomes. From idiosyncratic Excel sheets to greedy algorithms, their architectures are often intangible and invisible, yet constitute the blueprint for built forms. A series of investigative reports into selective present-day case studies across the Netherlands, will expose the denominators that increasingly define the financial, social and cultural values of cities, and with that the access to it.
The Home of Capital
Exhibition | from 4 July 2021
The Home of Capital is a contribution to the exhibition Temporary House of Home, which uses the Instagram page Funda Makeovers to unfold the financial mechanisms behind the phenomenon ‘house flipping,’ a popular practice among private investors. Using the hashtag #ziedepotentie (‘see the potential’), Funda Makeovers presents before and after images of houses that have been posted twice within a year on Funda, the Netherlands' largest real estate platform. Stripped-down interiors undergo a restyling featuring herringbone parquet, steel window frames, and, ideally, black taps. Suddenly the price doubles. The installation argues that these houses are not a home for humans, but rather a home for capital, and elaborates on the financial and fiscal incentives for this phenomenon to proliferate across The Netherlands.
Inflate a Building’s Value by €120 Million with this One Simple Formula
This article uses the recent sale of Rotterdam’s Groot Handelsgebouw as case study to investigate how global investment firms are using an arcane financial formula to make huge profits flipping properties in local markets. The article unfolds how public investments in this area not necessarily trickle down, but instead reveal an opposite effect, in which profits primarily seem to be exploited by a rotating host of global speculators.
Spreadsheet Architectures: The Algorithm of Speculation
Event | 25 March 2021
From smooth Excel sheets to greedy algorithms, financial instruments and their agents are often intangible and invisible, yet increasingly constitute the blueprint for built forms. In the first iteration of Spreadsheet Architectures, the recent €289 mn sale of the Groot Handelsgebouw served as point of departure to trace flows of capital, identify anonymous proprietors and unpack revenue schemes and legal constructions. The event reflected upon their ramifications with experts and protagonists, including Ewald Engelen, Michelle Provoost and Wendy Verschoor. Excerpts from the programme are available on this page.