2014 OPEN CALL > 2014 FESTIVAL THEMATICS AND QUESTIONS > The Corporation / Financial Districts


PINK: The Art Of Confidence in Critical Cities Volume 3

Since the decline of European communism twenty years ago Financial Districts have been built with rapid speed and noteworthy similarity across the globe. Desired, celebrated, ignored, distrusted or transformed into sites of protest and revolution – what can we learn about the most avant-garde spaces of ancient and modern capitalism? What does this mean for the future of how we might conceive of cities and our everyday lives? Are financial districts islands floating separate to the city, connected like an archipelago with other sites of finance rather than their locality? What is the relationship of financial districts to Empires?

 Topics, questions, areas of investigation include but are not limited to:


  • Critical insight into the planning of recent financial districts: Moscow City, Sandton - Johannesburg, Washington D.C, Canary Wharf - London, Barwa -Doha, La Défense – Paris, Santa Fe -Mexico City, Lagos Island, Tel Aviv, Beirut Central District, Costanera Center- Santiago, Panama Financial District, Seoul City, City of Makati – Manilla, Potsdamer Platz – Berlin, World Financial Centre – Shanghai.


  •  Interrogation of the urban design principles and accepted logic of forthcoming financial districts: King Abdullah Financial District- Riyadh, Gujarat International Finance Tec-City – Ahmedabad, Abdali New Downtown – Amman, Yeouido – Seoul, Almaty Financial District – Kazakhstan, Istanbul International Financial Center – Istanbul, Barangaroo - Sydney.
  • Financial districts as markers of empire and colonialisation. Financial districts as command centres of future empires.
  •  New perspectives, geographies and mappings of historical centres of finance – Uruk, Ur, Athens, London, Detroit, Hamburg etc.


  • Projects investigating the logic of the ‘global cities race’ – insight into the competition to be at the centre of these new organising and political structures, which are predicted to outmaneuver nation states. 
  •  Research that highlights the unique legal-spatial framework in which many financial districts operate - along with the distinctive legal structures of the corporations themselves.
  •  Insights into labour. Mapping who works in these districts, in which jobs, what are the pay scales? Where do these people live and how do they get into their workplace? Who runs the city after 9pm? What are their day (night) lives like? What kind of spaces do they occupy? How is the City used differently at night?
  • Evaluations and critique of philanthropic projects, people and institutions (past and present) undertaken by the institutions of financial districts. Perspectives on patronage, giving and trickle-down theory in cities. 
  • Insight into art, commerce and culture. What are the policies for buying and collecting art? Tours of the remarkable art collections housed in the offices. Evaluations of company lead and sponsored cultural projects.
  • Office design – the psychology underpinning contemporary office layout; office layout and office ladies, hot-desking utilised by business consultant companies, ‘at their office’ pioneered by accountancy companies, the location of the ‘ejection seat’, in house cafes and break out spaces, the use glass to create notions of ‘The Transparent City’.
  •  Sites of violence, suicide and murder. A pre-eminent target for terrorists, including the recent destruction of the Twin Towers in New York, the death of Ian Tomlinson killed at the G20 Protests by City of London Police in 2009, ‘Financial Suicide’ – the use of tall buildings (often the same ones) in busy financial centres to assist suicide.
  • Interrogation of the pre-eminent ideas/themes/logics/emotions driving the development and on-going policy support of Financial Districts– for example: Liberty by economics, There Is No Alternative, Aesop’s The Goose That Laid The Golden Eggs, economic Darwinism, The Market, Wealth Creation, Creative Destruction, Trickle down, transactional humanity and contractual relations, Masters of the Universe, Advantage, Creative Clusters and The Edifice Complex. 
  • Guided official and alternate historic and contemporary tours of financial districts.
  •  Projects deciphering/re-interpreting the lexicon and codes used by people who work in Financial Districts.
  • Financial District as renewed site of protest, rebellion, micro-resistance, revolution and potential. 
  • Work that draws out the peculiarities of these spaces; Streets designed so waiting ‘drivers’ can polish their cars, taxi’s with engines and metres running for hours, the security guards that wear replica police uniforms, the coded names of modern bars. 
  • Financial Districts as the creator of fringes or as the edge space of cities themselves. CDBs as ‘a cliff’ or as ‘a precipice’; The City as ‘a peak’ to navigate around. Investigations of what it means to look up/down and into/over.
  • Presentation of corporations/business ‘family trees’ located in a CBD and  ‘organisational family trees’ of the developers building any particular city’s CBD.
  • Archaeology of underground spaces – the spaces in which computer servers, power stations, isolated Internet cables and freelance financial algorithm engineers and developers inhabit.
  • Projects, theories and ideologies that propose new understandings, logics, references and uses for these unique spatial districts recognisable around the world



Last updated on July 12, 2014 by This Is Not A Gateway