Housing in the Neoliberal City: Large Urban Developments and the Role of Architecture

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Housing in the Neoliberal City: Large Urban Developments and the Role of Architecture


  • Merryan Majerowitz Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion IIT, Israel
  • Yael Allweil Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion IIT, Israel


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Abstract:  Large urban developments (LUDs) have been driving contemporary neoliberal urban housing development worldwide, marked by scholarly and public discourses on the transition from housing as a basic civil right to housing as investment channel and financial good. Based on interviews, documentary films, architectural drawings and planning documents, this article examines the interrelations between architectural and entrepreneurial factors shaping LUDs in the contemporary neoliberal context. Analyzing several LUDs in Israel, Denmark and Spain, this article unpacks the paradox of neoliberal housing development—namely the unfulfilled free market promise of variety and multiple choice versus the reality of replicated, uniform dwelling units in repetitive residential buildings and identical neighborhoods characterizing residential landscapes worldwide. This article explores the corresponding relationship between design elements, design processes and entrepreneurial marketing decision-making. Our study reveals the cardinal role of architectural design in characterizing, financing, licensing and marketing LUDs, labeling them as unique—rather than uniform—developments compared with ‘regular’ neighborhoods.

Keywords:  architectural design; housing development; large urban development; neoliberalism; urban housing

Published:   21 November 2019


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v4i4.2298


© Merryan Majerowitz, Yael Allweil. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.