The Avery Review

Hélène Frichot and Helen Runting —

The Promise of a Lack: Responding to (Her) Real Estate Career

Dear…
You ask us to tell about Sweden’s recent plunge into real estate.1

Last Sunday, we accompanied a friend to an inspection of an apartment in Södermalm, Stockholm. The building was from the 1930s, like many on this inner city island, and like its peers from the time, it had a particularly tiny elevator. “Max 3 pers” the sign above the button read. Exceeding three, we took the stairs, arriving at the eighth floor out of breath. Shoes filled the stairwell, each pair following the next in a long chain leading from the apartment door to the edge of the landing. We could hear our friend’s voice ahead of us on the stairs: “The shoes—all those shoes!” This was a bad sign. Her disappointment was audible. More than signifying that a well-attended party is in progress, the number of shoes on a landing constitutes one of many indicators of how far above the asking price one should bid in the competitive inner city real estate market of Stockholm.2 So, after pretending to look at the apartment, which was too small and too expensive in any case, we walked back down the stairs in silence. What, after all, could we say in the face of this latest disappointment one in a series since her recent plunge?

Every Saturday and Sunday afternoon, the suburban streets and inner city apartment blocks of Stockholm are peppered with small curbside real estate signs. Each sign draws passers-by’s attention to an address, an apartment, or a villa that is “open for inspection.” At the doorways to these properties, suited real estate agents stand, exchanging pleasantries with prospective buyers. The buyers, strangely vulnerable in their socks, chat among themselves within the whitewashed interiors, presumably trying to determine whether what is on offer might indeed “suit their situation.”3 This ritual, its guardians (the real estate agents), its facilitators (the real estate websites and apps), its pushers (the banks), and its performers (the population) all form the backdrop for a city that appears to have embarked on a radically different path than that imagined under the Swedish welfare state in the twentieth century. Sweden’s twenty-first-century plunge into real estate is thus a leap into a new milieu resulting in complex political, ethical, and ontological realignments of a former population of renters who have transformed into avid buyers of real estate.4 Provoked by a metropolitan housing shortage that has been exacerbated by the privatization of the country’s rental sector, the recent flurry of enthusiasm over Stockholm’s housing market marks a departure from the dispassionate, silent, and “stiff” national character portrayed by Susan Sontag in her 1969 “A Letter from Sweden.”5 6 It is, in comparison, positively exuberant.

While spirits are still served according to strict measure in Stockholm’s bars, and Swedes might still discuss at length how much someone pays for his apartment over dinner (two social mores picked up in Sontag’s “Letter”), current propensities for quantification no longer conform to Sontag’s buttoned-up appraisal—namely that “numbers come up quite often when the Swedes talk…because numbers are emotionally neutral, and their casual use can make intimate matters seem impersonal.”7 Numbers, in the context of Sweden’s recent plunge into real estate, are rather deeply personal, and conversely, the personal must be understood as being deeply economic. In fact, it is precisely the emotional intensity of the current housing crisis, with the disenfranchised angst, and potent sense of an “anodyne lightness of being,” afforded by the purchase of private, tenant-occupied, or owner-occupied housing, which make numbers (particularly those negotiated on the basis of pairs-of-shoes-on-a-landing) the diametric opposite of “neutral.”8

In response to such scenes, made ever more common with the retreat of the Swedish welfare state, we claim, even rudely territorialize, a new critical domain—feminist real estate theory. This protean theory will allow us to discuss the contemporary entrepreneurial subject we call the indebted woman. While we have specifically situated the indebted woman in the urban context of Stockholm, we suspect that women like her appear here and there, in varied permutations, in most global cities. Still, we wish to acknowledge her specificity, pegged as it is to particular spatialities, temporalities, and economies. We also compose our brief letter from Sweden as a critical response to two recent books, Maurizio Lazzarato’s The Making of the Indebted Man, and the collection of essays titled Real Estates: Life Without Debt, edited by the collective Fulcrum (Jack Self and Shumi Bose).9 As the latter demonstrates, the architecture field has recently turned its attention to real estate. In part, this sudden interest may be read as a cynical move, real estate constituting yet another frontier for disciplinary colonization, or as a pragmatic one—an acknowledgement that much of the “design” now occurs before the architects have been commissioned, in an upside-down process in which marketing makes the first pitch for the building to come. There is a third possibility though—one we will entertain here—and this asserts the biopolitical and noological potential of both architecture and finance in shaping brains, minds, and bodies in the conditions of twenty-first-century capitalism through processes of subject formation, of assujettissement. It is, after all, through the seductive space of real estate that finance and architecture can flirt, together participating in the collusive production and proliferation of the figure that Maurizio Lazzarato refers to as “indebted woman.” To understand this emerging subjectivity we will re-engage certain critical tactics drawn from feminist theory, which, despite its many internal antagonisms, remain fundamentally concerned with the sociopolitical exploration of non-normative, even emancipatory, processes of subjectivation.

book-covers
Left: Real Estates: Life Without Debt. Right: The Making of Indebted Man.

In his recent work, and with an increasing sense of urgency, Lazzarato draws attention to the plight of the indebted woman, caught between processes of gendered subjection on the one hand, and the structural imposition of machinic enslavement—which Lazzarato, after Guattari, reads in terms of subjugation to debt—on the other.10 Following Michel Foucault, subjectivity has been entirely reformulated as a topic of study whereby the indebted woman is observed to “individuate” as an entrepreneurial subject amid an emergent, real state of affairs. She and her situation are co-constitutive.11 Another way of explaining this is that the indebted woman is not a phenomenological subject who can be identified as a stable point of action and consciousness; instead she is a subjectivity provisionally formulated through processes of subjectivation, which are always under the pressure of a local environment. For our purposes, the contemporary environment of which we speak, Stockholm, is deeply affected by emerging real estate infrastructures and cultures.


But wait, it is distinctly not the indebted woman that Lazzarato introduces to us as the subjected subject of the twenty-first century par excellence; it is indebted man. We therefore feel obliged to ask: Are we to read “man,” yet again, as a gender-neutral representative for the human species? Surely a gendered difference can be inserted here, even at the risk of re-instilling a somewhat exhausted binary? Real Estates: Life Without Debt, which is a brief and cursory survey introducing an idiosyncratic audience of architects and architectural theorists to the contemporary pressures of real estate, leaves us with similar misgivings. The contents page features only two to three women out of fifteen contributors, and the political stance of the content itself maintains, in its diversity of positions, a certain ambivalence. Among the collected texts, it is difficult to locate a kind of thinking that goes beyond critical play within given structures. We sympathize with this difficulty, one endemic to the challenges of critical theory in an age of récupération. However, in placing these two recent accounts into dialogue, and by deploying certain feminist tactics, we believe that we can stake out a distinct position amid a world of real estate, debt, and processes of (entrepreneurial) subjectivation, subjection, and machinic enslavement.

Feminism’s second wave resounded with the cry that the personal is political. It’s a call to arms we want to remember, but in our societies of debt control, we must recognize that the personal is economic. This seems to be an axiom of the new millennium, and certainly the slogan of the neoliberal governmentalities that have descended upon the European Union like thick fog. Neoliberalism engulfs existing political landscapes, endowing them with a new mentality of government and instigating a series of minor alterations, which produce entirely new kinds of subjects. Foucault described neoliberalism as a “new programing” and an “internal reorganization” of liberal governmentality, of our affects and relations, and of our ethos.12 The neoliberal subject treats life as a market, wherein rational economic choices must be made between various social, political, and economic options, and individuals are fully responsible for themselves, irrespective of their specific situation. If the personal has become economic, a “mismanaged life” in this schema, as Wendy Brown reminds us, represents a biographical rather than a structural failure.13 In this way, the life that neoliberal governmentality brings into being—again through the tried and tested techniques of discipline and biopower—is the life of homo oeconomicus, the entrepreneur of the self. A large part of this entrepreneurship pertains to how lifestyle can be managed, and how the stage can be set for the production of one’s subject position in relation to one’s own real estate, what in the Swedish context has come to be called a “housing career.”

While the concept of a housing career can possibly be dated back to the interwar period, the term is entrenched in the economic imaginary of 1990s neoliberalism.14 It was at that time—when the opening up of previously regulated markets was met with the pop of champagne corks and a faith in the promises of entrepreneurship, innovation, and the knowledge economy—that homo oeconomicus emerged. One’s housing career is quite literally the sum of one’s chosen housing arrangements, but it is also necessary that it comprise a narrative of successive “upgrading,” an incremental march toward the ideal home. Such improvements are not necessarily figured in terms of size or cost, but rather in what real estate agents have coined as “suiting one’s situation.”15 To be at the correct stage in one’s housing career in Sweden is to enclose oneself in a Goldilocks-like container—not too big and not too small—an architectural skin that fits one’s imagined means and speaks of one’s desired lifestyle. In its reliance on progressive upward mobility (the conceptual intoxicant of choice for the 1990s yuppie), the housing career plays upon, and in fact intersects with, another broader socioeconomic movement—the klassresa, or class journey, a term that designates progression in terms of one’s class status, not just one’s economic capacities. All of this requires a certain milieu, an environment and an ethos that encourages our progression up the ladder, or upward through the housing career.

What kind of environment does a neoliberal real estate logic produce? What atmospheres does it engender? We no longer need to target the individual subject in order to discipline or control her habits of spatial consumption. A more insidious approach is possible through an infiltration of her local urban atmospheres whereby her socio-spatial environment comes to expect something from her, preparing her for certain performances, the housing career among them. These real estate environments, such as the one that can be witnessed in Stockholm today, are manufactured by multiple means: through media, both print-based and electronic; via gossip on the street, in the office, on the Internet; across real estate windows and real estate newspaper inserts; across the curated pages of Ikea catalogs; and in lifestyle editorials. Suffice to say, the affective registers motivating the housing career are multiple, and also include a sense of severe FoMO (fear of missing out), the claustrophobia of stasis, a preemptive sense of loss, and the kind of cynical competitiveness described so beautifully by Italo Calvino in his 1956–57 text, “A Plunge into Real Estate.”16

Because our concern in this essay is specifically with the indebted woman, we propose to perform a minor manipulation of gender upon Calvino’s protagonist Quintino, and call him instead Quintina, which serves our purposes better. Now, Quintina is haunted by “a feeling that she was an incompetent landowner, unable to make the best use of her property, a woman who, in a period when capital was in continual, speculative use, a period of swindling and [plastic] credit, sits back with her hands in her pockets and lets the value of her property decrease.”17 In the face of a deep-seated, class-based FoMO, the formerly Communist Quintina engages in an “economic moment” of speculative property development in her bourgeois family’s extensive garden on the Italian Riviera. It is after the intellectual (although fiscally limited) Quintina has made a deal with the uneducated yet entrepreneurial contractor Caisotti that she feels she has found a position that speaks of her desired lifestyle and concomitant class status:

For the first time, Quintina did not feel guilty at the distance between herself and this ancestral world; she belonged now to another world from which she could look back on the old one with a superior irony. She was one of the new women, who had thrown off the old-fashioned prejudices, who were used to handling money.18

Despite the present buzz around real estate, we must highlight that, just as Quintina’s plunge echoed a particular economic moment in postwar Italian society, the present-day housing career is also reliant on a historically situated economic imaginary of optimistic entrepreneurialism, which, even if it was from the start a fiction, now borders on obsolete. As Maurizio Lazzarato warns, “Since the last financial crisis following the dot-com bust, capitalism has abandoned the epic narratives it had constructed around the ‘conceptual types’ of the entrepreneur, the creative visionary, and the independent worker, ‘proud of being his own boss.’”19 This abandonment may lie at the heart of the sense of angst that surrounds the housing career, which in reality is no longer about overtly popping champagne corks, but rather about managing debt; managing not a home, but rather the lack of one.

To return to Wendy Brown, what we witness with neoliberalism is how the individual, having secured her independence, takes on responsibilities that were formally subsumed by the State. As Lazzarato puts it, “To make an enterprise of oneself (Foucault)—that means taking responsibility for poverty, unemployment, precariousness, welfare benefits, low wages, reduced pensions, etc., as if these were the individual’s ‘resources’ and ‘investments’ to manage as capital, as ‘his’ capital.”20 And thus a lack of housing is transformed into a self-managed resource. As it turns out, certain aspects of second-wave feminism may well have contributed to the current plight of the indebted woman. In her 2009 essay, “Feminism, Capitalism, and the Cunning of History,” Nancy Fraser warns of the recuperation of second-wave feminist critique (particularly with respect to its critique of the welfare state) by an emergent neoliberal capitalism, as a “disturbing possibility” wherein “the cultural changes jump-started by the second wave, salutary in themselves, have served to legitimate a structural transformation of capitalist society that runs directly counter to feminist versions of a just society.”21 Hence, a cry such as the “personal is political” too easily becomes the “personal is economic,” and a hard-won fight for individual rights turns out to be an excuse for a shift in responsibility. Now the indebted woman must shoulder the costs and risks that the state and corporations have projected onto her.22 The indebted woman has succeeded, she has become a neoliberal feminist, but only to discover her newly born self mired in debt, because former promises toward an open future have now been indefinitely deferred.

The housing career, and its horizon of expectation, will only lead our woman further into debt, as the cost of housing and other domestic consumables, not to mention luxury items, increases while her wage levels out. And it is exactly her future that is at stake. The very time of her existence is the collateral on which her debt is backed.23 Woman departs from one form of historical bondage to man only to discover herself beholden to another—her mortgage. Till death do us part. The indebted woman has mortgaged her future in pursuit of her housing career and her new pair of shoes. As Lazzarato argues, “The debtor is ‘free,’ but his actions, his behavior, are confined to the limits defined by the debt he has entered into. The same is true as much for the individual as for a population or social group. You are free insofar as you assume the way of life (consumption, work, public spending, taxes, etc.) compatible with reimbursement.”24 You are compelled to be free, and free only to pursue a style of life that best fits what Lazzarato identifies as the ubiquitous global logic of finance that today characterizes the debt economy. Finance, he argues, controls the temporality of action by neutralizing possibilities, thereby closing down the dynamics of a living present, “the line where past and future meet.” At the same time as locking down a temporal flow of existence, finance projects the overdetermined relationship between debtor and creditor into a future.25 The temporal mechanics of finance lie in the promise the indebted woman makes to pay back her debt, offering up her future as a form of security and producing a conscience that demands she stand as her own guarantor. Memory, subjectivity, and conscience, we might argue, following Lazzarato, are all recent possessions that the indebted woman has been able to secure for herself, only to instantaneously discover that her possessions threaten to exhaust her possible future, because she has been extended credit that she will now be obliged to pay back infinitely.

A pervasive and specifically Swedish brand of neoliberal governmentality is now incentivizing the sale of rent-negotiated apartments allocated on a universal (rather than means-controlled) basis, introducing profit-norms into the municipal housing sector, and supporting a burgeoning trade in tenant-occupied apartments. Confronted by these contemporary transformations, it is hard to read Sontag’s “Letter,” with its charming “Dear…” without balking at its assault of a world that is now fading from view. It is hard to tell whether Sontag would have preferred the excesses of contemporary Stockholm, home to “the world’s third hippest neighbourhood,” to streets of bars and cycle repair shops and local breweries and barbershops, and to endless narratives of speculative progress, told by Swedes (new, old, and becoming Scandinavians) in terms of their individual housing careers.26 With its developed asignifying semiotics and affective mechanics, the housing market whispers in the ears of potential end-stage buyers and of design-phase architects alike: Its synthetic apartment-dwellers and staged scenes of domesticity (the half-packed leather travel bag casually by the door at an inspection, the mix of old and new furniture arranged in accordance with the preferences of an entire “market segment”) and its celebrity decorators (now part of new-build projects from day one) all leave Sontag’s scathing assessment of affective repression for naught. For those of us, however, who maintain an intellectual fascination, nostalgic or otherwise, in Sweden’s welfare state housing policies, this demise is hardly cause for celebration.27

Back to those shoes that fill the landings on weekends. Back to friends, and indeed to an entire city, seemingly caught up in a game that must be read as yet another biopolitical mass-production of the Swedish population through the real estate machine. What can be said from a standpoint within architecture, itself a privileged “technology” of discipline and control within the real estate machine? Specifically, what can be said to her? For the indebted woman must see that this story applies to her too.28

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The authors collect their shoes.

We argue that the indebted woman is in fact doubly indebted. First, she is indebted through forms of oppressive bondage that she risks mistaking for her personal liberty and her forthright capacity for an entrepreneurship of the self. Second, though, her indebtedness exists as positive acknowledgement—a debt owed to a history of critical feminist thinking. While she would do well to default on the first kind of loan, dispelling a misplaced morality that demands you must always pay back, the second kind of debt may offer her certain critical weapons. We propose that the second kind of debt is the means by which the indebted woman can undertake her battle with the first kind of debt. Not all debt is bad debt. In a similar vein, Lazzarato concludes that what we must do is break the tie between morality and debt. Following Nietzsche, he proposes a “second innocence” arguing that, “We must recapture this second innocence, rid ourselves of guilt, of everything owed, of all bad conscience, and not repay a cent.”29 But what, then, of the ethics of debt, in particular what of the originary debt so carefully described in the early work of such feminists as Luce Irigaray?30 What about the debts that we do owe, the promises that we must make, in order to establish a home for ourselves in the environment we find ourselves within? How might the indebted woman find the means to acknowledge an ethical relation of debt that creates openings into a “feminist future” otherwise foreclosed through financial debt?31 A radical revision of ecologies of practice is needed that goes beyond incidental and disconnected gestures of critical resistance and instead ambitiously aims for durable and systemic change. There are no easy answers, but one way or another we must take a position against the foreclosure of existential, social, and environmental futures.


  1. With our opening line we directly cite the somewhat agrammatical opening of Susan Sontag’s 1969 “Letter from Sweden,” in which she writes, “You ask me to tell about Sweden after spending seven months of the last twelve living here.” Susan Sontag, “Letter from Sweden,” Ramparts (July, 1969): 23. 

  2. “When entering someone’s house or apartment during the winter, you are often asked to leave your shoes at the doorway. Impossible not to, even if it’s demonstrably true that your shoes aren’t wet and you explain that because of the cold you’d rather not walk around in your stockings or socks.” Sontag, “Letter from Sweden,” 28. 

  3. “Moving out? Met the love of your life? Are you expecting? Parting ways? … Your housing career mirrors your life. Sometimes you need a bigger place, sometimes a smaller one; sometimes more central, sometimes more secluded; sometimes cheap, sometimes exclusive. The most important thing is to find the home that suits your situation.” (Author’s translation, emphasis added.) HusmanHagberg, accessed April 10, 2015, bostadskarriar.se

  4. We take the phrase “plunge into real estate” from Italo Calvino’s 1956–57 text of the same name. Italo Calvino, “A Plunge into Real Estate,” Difficult Loves: Smog and a Plunge into Real Estate, trans. D.S. Crane-Ross (London: Vintage Books, 1999), 148–246. 

  5. Evidence of this enthusiasm includes the 2006 amendment exempting newly built rental dwellings from negotiated rent levels under the use-value system; the 2009 introduction of owner-occupied tenure in relation to new multi-residential housing; and finally, following a formal complaint to the European Commission by the Swedish Property Federation against the Swedish government, the 2011 Law on Municipal Housing Companies (2010: 857), which withdraws all subsidies to municipal housing companies and requires them to operate on a business-oriented (profit-motivated) model. For a summary of these shifts in English, see: ed. Bo Bengtsson, “Housing and Housing Policy in Sweden,” Planning and Sustainable Urban Development in Sweden, Mats Johan Lundström, Charlotta Fredriksson, and Jakob Witzell, (Stockholm: Förenening för Samhällsplanering, 2013). 

  6. Susan Sontag’s scathing missive in fact went so far as to describe Stockholm’s inhabitants, “with their limited appetite for individuality,” as seemingly “functioning with a deficit of energy.” Sontag, “Letter from Sweden,” 32. 

  7. Sontag, “Letter from Sweden,” 27. 

  8. Helen Runting and Hélène Frichot, “Welcome to The Promenade City: Gentri-fictional Images of Thought in the Post-Industrial Age,” Architecture and Culture: Journal of the Architectural Research Humanities, forthcoming (2015); Hélène Frichot, “Söder Pops Island: My Own Personal Gentri-Fiction” in Candide: Journal for Architectural Knowledge, forthcoming (2015). 

  9. Maurizio Lazzarato, The Making of the Indebted Man (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2012); Fulcrum (Jack Self and Shumi Bose) ed., Real Estates: Life Without Debt (London: Bedford Press, 2014). 

  10. See Lazzarato, The Making of the Indebted Man; Maurizio Lazzarato, Signs and Machines: Capitalism and the Production of Subjectivity (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2014); Maurizio Lazzarato, Governing by Debt (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2015). 

  11. A term that refers to the work of Gilbert Simondon—see, for instance, “The Genesis of the Individual,” in Jonathan Crary and Sanford Kwinter (eds.), Incorporations (New York: Zone Books, 1992): 297–319. 

  12. “It is an internal reorganization that, once again, does not ask the state what freedom it will leave to the economy, but asks the economy how its freedom can have a state-creating function and role, in the sense that it will really make possible the foundation of the state’s legitimacy.” Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France (1978–79) (New York: Picador, 2008), 95. 

  13. Wendy Brown, “Neoliberalism and the End of Liberal Democracy,” Edgework: Critical Essays on Knowledge and Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005); Wendy Brown, Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution (New York: Zone Books, 2015.) 

  14. In fact, a version of “the housing career” is described in Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, which was written between 1928 and 1940: “‘However, I have known people,’ Koroviev burbled on, ‘who though quite ignorant have done wonders in enlarging their accommodation. One man in this town, so I was told, was given a three-roomed flat on the Zemlyanoi Rampart and in a flash, without using the fifth dimension or anything like that, he had turned it into four rooms by dividing one of the rooms in half with a partition. Then he exchanged it for two separate flats in different parts of Moscow, one with three rooms and the other with two. That, you will agree, adds up to five rooms. He exchanged the three-roomed one for two separate two-roomers and thus became the owner, as you will have noticed, of six rooms altogether, though admittedly scattered all over Moscow.’” Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita (London: Vintage, 2004), 286. 

  15. HusmanHagberg, bostadskarriar.se

  16. We have been particularly influenced by Daria Ricchi’s ongoing work with Calvino’s texts, and in particular with “A Plunge into Real Estate.” See Daria Ricchi, “There’s No Fantasy Without Reality: Calvino’s Architectural Fictions,” Pidgin 16 (2013). The Deleuzian scholar James Williams has also written on Calvino’s short story, although his celebration of the work of architect Peter Eisenman leaves us cold, and rather exacerbates the situation we describe in our own essay. See James Williams, “Deleuze’s Ontology and Creativity: Becoming in Architecture,” Le Pli 9 (2000): 200–19. 

  17. Calvino, “A Plunge into Real Estate.” 

  18. Calvino, “A Plunge into Real Estate,” 184. 

  19. Lazzarato, Indebted Man, 9. 

  20. Lazzarato, Indebted Man, 51. 

  21. Nancy Fraser, “Feminism, Capitalism, and the Cunning of History,” New Left Review 56 (2009): 99. 

  22. Lazzarato, Indebted Man, 51. 

  23. Lazzarato, Indebted Man, 60. 

  24. Lazzarato, Indebted Man, 31. 

  25. Lazzarato, Indebted Man, 71. 

  26. Nick Remsen, “Global Street Style Report: Mapping Out the 15 Coolest Neighborhoods in the World,” Vogue, September 5, 2014, http://www.vogue.com/slideshow/1080625/fifteen-coolest-street-style-neighborhoods/

  27. Perhaps especially for those of us who, like Sontag, are not even properly speaking “Swedes,” but rather only permanent or temporary residents attached to this place through mechanisms that delivered us a free education and academic tenure. 

  28. Lazzarato, Indebted Man, 184. 

  29. Lazzarato,Indebted Man, 164. 

  30. See, for instance, Luce Irigaray’s discussion of chora in Luce Irigaray, An Ethics of Sexual Difference (London: Continuum, 2004). 

  31. Elizabeth Grosz, “Deleuze’s Bergson: Duration, the Virtual and a Politics of the Future,” ed. Claire Colebrook, Deleuze and Feminist Theory (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000), 229. 

Dr. Hélène Frichot is Associate Professor and Docent in Critical Studies in Architecture, KTH Stockholm. Hélène is also an Adjunct Professor at the School of Architecture and Design, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. Her research is located across the transdisciplinary field between architecture and philosophy.


Helen Runting is an Austrialian urban planner and urban designer, currently undertaking doctoral research within Critical Studies in Architecture at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden. She is a co-editor of the journal LO-RES and a member of the office Svensk Standard.

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