"Soules's excellent book makes sense of the capitalist forces we all feel but cannot always name. Icebergs, Zombies, and the Ultra Thin arms architects and the general public with an essential understanding of how capitalism makes property. Required reading for those who think tomorrow can be different from today."— Jack Self, coeditor of Real Estates: Life Without Debt
In Icebergs, Zombies, and the Ultra Thin, Matthew Soules issues an indictment of how finance capitalism dramatically alters not only architectural forms but also the very nature of our cities and societies. We rarely consider architecture to be an important factor in contemporary economic and political debates, yet sparsely occupied ultra-thin "pencil towers" develop in our cities, functioning as speculative wealth storage for the superrich, and cavernous "iceberg" homes extend architectural assets many stories below street level. Meanwhile, communities around the globe are blighted by zombie and ghost urbanism, marked by unoccupied neighborhoods and abandoned housing developments.
Learn how the use of architecture as an investment tool has accelerated in recent years, heightening inequality and contributing to worldwide financial instability:
• See how investment imperatives shape what and how we build, changing the very structure of our communities
• Delve into high-profile projects, like the luxury apartments of architect Rafael Viñoly's 432 Park Avenue
• Understand the convergence of technology, finance, and spirituality, which together are configuring the financialized walls within which we eat, sleep, and work
Includes dozens of photos and drawings of architectural phenomena that have changed the way we live. Essential reading for anyone interested in architecture, design, economics, and understanding the way our world is formed.
Matthew Soules is an associate professor of architecture at the University of British Columbia and a graduate of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD). Soules has been visiting faculty at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, a visiting associate professor at the GSD, and a guest critic at institutions throughout Canada and the United States. He is the founder and director of Matthew Soules Architecture.
"Soules deftly weaves together social, political, economic, and cultural theory with a variety of concrete physical examples to explore the role that architecture serves in sustaining finance capitalism. The result is a compelling and well-articulated indictment of architecture’s role not just in relation to finance capitalism but its role as finance capitalism....Icebergs, Zombies and the Ultra Thin is ultimately a very worthwhile read for anyone who is interested in better understanding the physical ways in which capitalism shapes our cities in the 21st century."
- Spacing (Canada),
"Occasionally we read a book that really matters. This is one of them."
- The Ormsby Review (Canada)
"The probing, surprising book provides vivid illustrations of the changes that occur when a city’s housing becomes a prime destination for investment by the rich....Icebergs, Zombies and the Ultra-Thin explains how the behavior of the world’s so-called high-net-worth-individuals, or HNWIs, exacerbates urban inequality - and is literally changing the layout and architecture of big or desirable cities like Vancouver, Toronto, Miami and Melbourne."
- Vancouver Sun,
"It's useful to understand just why and how architecture mutated to create these products of architectural Darwinism. At this, Soules excels....Over eight chapters, the extent to which our capitalist society determines architectural form is clearly and concisely laid bare." — Canadian Architect
"[A] compelling, chilling read which attacks the comforting notion of home, forcing the reader to find their bearings and prepare the ground for a different, concrete future."
- London School of Economics Review of Books,
“In this utterly original book, Matthew Soules addresses the phenomenon of 'the financialization of everything' that has been described in recent years by scholars such as Saskia Sassen, and depicts its profoundly disturbing effects on the world of architecture.”
- George Baird, Emeritus Professor of Architecture, University of Toronto,
"[A] whirlwind tour of the outrageous physical distortions, urban warp zones, and typological mutants wreaked upon the global landscape by the international finance industry."
- Architect's Newspaper,
"Soules compellingly explains the workings of financial capitalism and its consequences through global case studies."
- BOMB Magazine,
"Soules’ book lives up to its bizzaro title as he takes us on a global tour of the weird ways in which financial forces are mutating our built environments, from mountainside suburbs in Las Vegas to houses wrapped by golf courses."
- The Tyee,
"[A]ny knowledge architects can gain about the workings of architecture within capitalism — about the "numbers" — can't be all that bad. As such, this book is a very good place to start."
- A Daily Dose of Architecture Books,
"It is hard to figure out what is most dazzling about Matthew Soules's Icebergs, Zombies, and the Ultra Thin: the dissection of the complex but very material nature of finance capital; the adroit linking of real estate calculations to the physical shape of housing; the exposure of how, in architecture, base (the money equations) and superstructure (architectural aspiration) are dialectically intertwined; the weaving of cultural and economic theory with concrete facts; or the simultaneous breadth and depth of examples. I think, ultimately, it's his reminder that-like the goldfish asking, 'What water?'-architecture's inability to comprehend its submersion in finance capital dooms both our urban life and our architectural reputation."
- Peggy Deamer, editor of Architecture and Capitalism: 1845 to the Present,
"Soules's excellent book makes sense of the capitalist forces we all feel but cannot always name. Agency requires awareness; Icebergs, Zombies, and the Ultra Thin arms architects and the general public with an essential understanding of how capitalism makes property. Required reading for those who think tomorrow can be different from today."
- Jack Self, co-editor of Real Estates: Life Without Debt,