A lecture given on May 5, 2019 at the architecture faculty of KTH, the Royal Technical University in Stockholm.
Soon after Dr. Helen Runting of Secretary Office wrote an article with Prof. of Critical Studies in Architecture Dr. Hélène Frichot for eflux architecture, expanding on the technical workings of blockchain for real estate and the rise of Proptech introduced in the lecture:
“The fractionalized, blockchain-enabled real estate products of the proptech sector are less buildings, though, than instances of financialized capital, atomized. The real estate on offer targets the immaterial satisfaction of existential needs by feeding a speculative impulse:
you are invited to partake in the real estate game not at the scale of property measured in square meters, but by way of infinitesimally small chunks of circulating capital pegged to spatial products elsewhere.
Just one click and you can share with your virtual and anonymous community in the ownership of an apartment in Rio de Janeiro, a condo in Miami, a pad in Manhattan.
This is a mood-altering architecture that is available in micro-doses.
You inhabit its spaces mentally, in fleeting and snatched moments of screen time. You can withdraw whenever you feel like it, because you are the kind of person who never has to wait.
And yet wait you do, for something fundamentally existential continues to be deferred, sheltering an anticipation of a future that may never emerge. Amidst all these online transactions, where, after all, can you secure sufficiently durable digs? Blockchain-based proptech products are marketed towards a generation, “young and smart and raised by wolves,” who have achieved
a level of speculative dematerialization only dreamed of
by the Patrick Batemans and Eric Packers of Don DeLillo and Brett Easton Ellis novels”
Dr. Helen Runting and Prof. Hélène Frichot have written extensively on the obfuscation of housework in relation to real estate imaginaries, see:
“The Illusory Autonomy of the Real Estate Interior” in Sten Gromark, Jennifer Mack, and Roemer van Toorn, eds, Rethinking the Social in Architecture: Making Effects (New York and Barcelona: Actar, 2018); Hélène Frichot and Helen Runting.
“In Captivity: The Real Estate of Co-Living” in Hélène Frichot, Catharina Gabrielsson, and Helen Runting eds, Architecture and Feminisms: Ecologies, Economies, Technologies (London: Routledge, 2017).