chapter  20
9 Pages

Architecture and the promise of post-capitalism

In parallel to histories of technology and type, architecture’s relation to capital has

evolved its own dramatic yet until relatively recently1 under-theorized history across the

twentieth century. Various approaches have emerged in the last decade to interrogate

this relationship more fully, as the role of economics within general social and political

discourse has become dominant. As an alternative approach to reading the role of

architecture and economics, this paper interrogates architecture’s positioning as it is

written from within economic theory, using two key economic texts that serve to

bookend the twentieth century and illustrate the prospect of a theory of the built

environment from the perspective of money and capital. Georg Simmel’s The Philosophy

of Money (1900) and Jeremy Rifkin’s The Zero Marginal Cost Society (2014) define a

spectrum for architectural theory through the discipline of economics as it has evolved

from the economies of industry into the modern neoliberal context. These two key

economic texts outline architecture’s evolving relation to forms of value and exchange,

and trace a broader movement from the capital value that architecture has represented

throughout history to a moment where material capital has evolved to a ‘zero margin’

paradigm, a literally de-materialized framework of value for process as product,

underpinned by the Internet of Things at the beginning of the twenty-first century.