The Berlage

Session Room B

On the City in the City

Amy Thomas

Stills from Roy Battersby, "A Question of Confidence," Men and Money, BBC 2, 1964.

This talk will discuss Amy’s forthcoming book, The City in the City: Architecture and Change in London’s Financial District. The book offers the first in-depth architectural and urban history of London’s financial district, the City of London, from the period of rebuilding after World War II to the explosive climax of financial deregulation in the 1980s and its long aftermath. Here, abstract financial ideas, political ideology, and invisible markets reveal themselves as concrete realities. Told through four spatial scales—City, Street, Façade, and Interior—the book explores the grand plans, hidden alleys, neo-Georgian elevations, and sweaty dealing floors that make the financial center work. Moving from politics to sociology, institutions to bodies, development plans to office desks, the book unravels the rich entanglements between the structure of the financial system and the structure of the environment in which it operated. The talk will explore how, as currents of local government reform, nation-building, and globalization swept across Britain, the City became an ideological battleground for debates between politicians and financial institutions, real estate developers and architects, preservationists, and so-called “proactive” planners throughout the latter half of the century.

Amy Thomas is Assistant Professor of architectural history in the Department of Architecture at TU Delft. Her research explores the relationships between design, people and political economy in the city at every scale. Her forthcoming book The City in the City: Architecture and Change in London’s Financial District (2023) with MIT Press examines the post-war development of London’s financial centre, the City of London. In 2020 Amy was awarded the NWO Veni grant for the project Her Office, investigating historical connections between gender, wellbeing and workplace design. In addition to this research, she is an advocate for equality, diversity and inclusion, and works with the BauHow5 alliance to improve access to architectural education. Amy is co-editor of the book Teaching Design for Values: Concepts, Tools and Practices (2022) on this theme. She has published in edited volumes and journals including The Journal of Architecture, Grey Room, Architectural Theory Review, and ARCH+.

This spring’s series, entitled “Money Talks,” looks at the architecture associated with the storing, trading, management, digitization, and centralization of money. Topics will include the history of the Bank of England, the competition for a new commodity exchange in Amsterdam, the design of banknotes, the commissioning of the headquarters of one of the largest banking and financial services institutions in the world, the post-war development of London’s financial center, among others. Speakers will include Daniel M. Abramson, Herman van Bergeijk, Martin Gran, Carol Patterson, Lauren S. Weingarden, Amy Thomas, and Stephanie Williams.

More events