How the Rich Transformed Vancouver and the World

A UBC professor’s new book tours ‘iceberg’ mansions, 'zombie' cities, 'sky-high' safety-deposit boxes, and the ‘financialization’ of architecture.

Matthew Soules, a professor at the school of architecture and landscape architecture at UBC, spoke about his new book that walks readers through the extremes of investment architecture and how finance capitalism has altered our built environments.

Buildings historically fulfilled three roles: providing shelter, manifesting culture and embodying wealth. But in the 1980s, finance capitalism hit its stride. Real estate became a form of investment, possessing the stability of bonds with far greater returns. Today, properties built for speculation will be used, managed and operated differently than ones prioritizing habitation.

While everyone accepts that buildings need to be financed and designed, there is an estrangement between the two fields. The Harvard-educated Soules has always been interested in how economics can dramatically shape design, something that both fields don’t like to admit.

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Sunday, June 20, 2021