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Urban Air Rights as Market Devices: Exploring Financialization in Taipei Metropolitan Area

CHEN, HUNG-YING (2018) Urban Air Rights as Market Devices: Exploring Financialization in Taipei Metropolitan Area. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis is the first geographical study which critically explores the role of urban air rights - the right to build upwards on and above a land tract – in processes of urban financialization. The thesis highlights the economic lives of air rights in the Taipei Metropolitan Area, Taiwan, showing how they are not only a market-based urban policy and planning tool but are also closely involved in economic processes of making markets, assets, and profits. Three types of urban air rights - Bonus Floor Area (BFA), Transferable Development Rights (TDR) and Incremental Floor Area (IFA) – that are prevalent in urban Taipei are explored in detail. The thesis examines the relations between the proliferation of air rights production and urban financialization through an experimental methodology of ‘following urban air rights’ through the socio-technical operations of their assembly and circulation. It argues that air rights are ‘market devices’ and, as such, they are constitutive of the contingent processes of commodification, marketization and capitalization that amount to urban financialization. Through case studies, the thesis shows how airspaces are commodified and, significantly, how they also become an asset class that is marketized and traded and/or capitalized upon and borrowed against (i.e. leveraged). Moreover, by exploring these processes, the thesis shows how air rights ‘overflow’ into popular urban politics: air rights become a site of struggle over rights to the financialized city. More broadly, the thesis contributes to theoretical debates on urban financialization by examining how the urban-finance nexus is teeming with socio-technical practices. By focusing on air rights as market devices, the thesis provides an analytical grammar for studying how urban air rights constitute urban financialization. It also demonstrates how a methodology of ‘following the air rights’ enables exploration of the multifaceted qualities and multiple markets that air rights configure.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:26 Nov 2018 11:46

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