Against an architecture of neoliberal technocracy.

Against an architecture of neoliberal technocracy.
Social insurance and Allied Services Report, 1942. Photo Credits: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office.
A call to re-define the role of architecture as a mechanism of social government : use value against exchange value for social welfare.

Dr. Eleni Axioti
Thessaloniki, Greece
Team members
Eleni Axioti
Field of work
Architecture, Design, Urban planning, Research
Project category
Raising awareness
Project submitted

Eleni Axioti is a researcher, writer and an educator. She is course tutor of the second year History and Theory Studies programme and Diploma lecturer at the Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA). She is also Lecturer in Contextual and Theoretical Studies at the University of the Arts London (London College of Communications & Central St. Martins College). She has been awarded a PhD from the AA with a thesis on the transformation of the institutional architecture of the British welfare state to a state of neoliberal workfare. Axioti holds an MA in Histories and Theories from the AA and a MEng in civil and structural engineering from AUTH (Greece). She has practiced as a designer and researcher in London since 2008.
Her research focuses on architectural history in regard to issues of social policy and political economy, investigating the practices of governance and technology, and more specifically the biopolitical aspects of architecture and planning. She is interested in developing a transdisciplinary approach to research, specifically addressing the different modes of production of architectural knowledge and their role in the development of contemporary relations of power.

This project proposes a book, which as another history of the present will problematize the contemporary disappearance of architecture of social welfare. The book addresses the dismantling of the welfare states from the 1980s onwards in Europe and the transition to a state of neoliberal technocracy. The book argues that it was through the proliferation of specific technocratic operations in the production of the built environment, that these changes became possible and the deployment of neoliberal forms of governance was facilitated, as actions at a distance that direct our behaviours. The chapters of the book scrutinise a series of buildings produced for institutions of social welfare such as hospitals, schools, universities, housing estates and public spaces and trace their gradual transformation. It discusses the changes that took place, the transfer of responsibility from the institutions of the state to the individual, the remodelling of social rights into personal responsibilities and objects of private enterprises. The book aims to present the gradual withdrawal of the state from the planning and production of the built environment and the practices that realised the generalisation of competition and of the enterprise as the model of producing the built environment. These practices relied on the self-regulation of the market, leading to deregulation in the production of the built environment, the prioritisation of profit, the extreme commodification of architecture, and its use as an instrument of financial speculation. The extensive privatisation that took place, are addressed through the effects that these have on the creation of new enclosures in the cities, and the increase of financial speculation and inequality, which define the contemporary cities. This book aims to be a critique and a call to re-define the role of architecture as a mechanism of social government, where the use value of architecture is prioritised against its exchange value.