Practice-based PhD: Ungating Community: Opening the enclosures of financialised housing

Activity: Examination typesExternal Examiner or Assessor


An ideology of globalization and neoliberal progress has led governments across the world to enable and encourage investors and property developers to construct real estate developments that appeal to variations of the mobile, global elite. Tracing the shift from home to real estate, this thesis examines four different forms of financialized housing and the various ways in which they construct borders and form exclusions within their cities; arguing that each one is a variation of the gated community. The gates in each case consist of various spatial, social and political infrastructure that work together to produce homogenized spaces of exclusion and sameness. The “co-living” complex that cites the precarity of contemporary labour and the insecurity of a private rental market in crisis, capitalizing on these characteristics towards selling a lifestyle of flexibility and the illusion of togetherness. The “expat communities” in China that adopt European design and evade the Great Firewall, aiming to attract international professionals, and their skills and professional knowledge, through the construction of convenience and familiarity; a smooth transition from one context to another. The private student housing that caters to a revolving community of non-committal short-term international students looking for maximum convenience and resulting in student “bubbles” that land as fast as they burst. The luxury investor-focussed property that consumes major cities and goes to any lengths to appropriate and edit their histories for the purposes of branding and marketing; I focus on the AM Tacheles development in Berlin that reconfigures the ex-squat, preserving a selection of “artistic features” to imbue it with a polished corporate version of Berlin’s creative “edge”. Unpacking these four forms of real estate, I will argue for the ungating of these spaces: the constructive interruption and dismantling of their borders and barriers; exclusions and divisions, via strategies of collectivization, critical spatial practice, and the radical imagination.

This is a practice-based PhD presented in three parts: a written thesis, a 2-episode DIY TV show, and ASSET ARREST – a podcast series that revolves around viewings of different residential properties for each episode, with myself and a guest posing as potential buyers and renters. These varied methods and interactions with space shape and inform each other, with each enabling me to examine these recent forms of financialized housing, as detailed above, and the ways in which they shape communities and individuals, in different ways and at different proximities.
Period1 Jul 2022
ExamineeLaura Yuile
Examination held at
  • Northumbria University
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • PhD external examiner
  • Practice-based Research
  • housing
  • gentrification