London 2016—conjuration of empty apartments--spectral dromes;
from Qatari enclaves in the Olympic park to vitric apparitions in Nine Elms, they emerge across the city as glowing husks.

Networks of property developments create zones of control, landscapes pulsing with symbolism and intent. Squares and plazas shimmer in the haze of international finance, money sparkling in water features, private cinemas, rooftop gardens--

the signs are everywhere--
you hear the faint crackling of power, notice where it lies..encoded, encrypted..not concentrated in the City of London or Canary Wharf but dispersed, irridescent in Italianate gardens, checkerboard paving, columns and neoclassical facades..

We search for thresholds, tissue like walls--
As public space is enclosed so protest shifts into the realm of the private- it regains potency by interrupting and rerouting channels of commerce and consumption--

we occupy by haunting--.


Vast estates like Ferrier, Trowbridge, Aylesbury and Heygate rose in the embers of post war consensus.
These abandoned sites are reliquaries, walls are imbued with skeins of memory. Landings and stairwells are the crystallised fragments of another time.

Spectral channels wait to be activated- -- militancy, the commons- -- subterranean potentials on the brink of realisation.

CARPENTERS ROAD, E15, south west of Stratford City, marooned in the hangover of 2012- Maisonettes form a transient zone-- a crucible, proliferation of new occupations cascading from multi storey point blocks—

Residents were told by Newham council they'd be 'decanted' to ailing estates in Birmingham and Manchester --

the destruction, the apocalypse has happened.. SOCIAL HOUSING DESTROYED IN THE 1, 2 and 3 ZONES---councils 'gutting' estates---smashing up plumbing, driving through walls, puncturing ceilings with the zeal of the IDF .

Decanting= class cleansing--–but, with disappearance comes haunting---

Empty council blocks are important sites for occupation, they are concrete reminders of what we have lost, but surely we need to reroute the libidinal channels of capitalism, to occupy the luxury drones, not just the gutted and dilapidated estates. We need to take the empty towers bought off plan in overseas auctions , be delirious in acts of audacity, deflect the cascades of psychic platitudes--

.. it’s what you’ve been waiting for...what you always dreamed of—--
carries hedonism at its heart, seizes the attention-

After a decade of sustained social cleansing, inner London is a gated matrix – pages of A-Z sinking into property empires in China, Malaysia, the Middle East. In the 3 and 4 zones, places become contingent, they unravel under a confusion of ownership, the interstices between boundaries become sites of conflict, entropy and confusion. Architecture becomes nomadic, there are encounters, the splintering of ideologies, beliefs and desires.
Crystallized fragments scuttle back to the central zones-- we lace them together, necklaces of bruising gems glistening in loading bays, portakabins and service tunnels-

portals, soft points---the porosity of the suburbs seeping back in--

on zero hours contracts in the service sector, on construction sites, in airports and shopping malls-- we hold the keys

inside//outside recoded

..it is only by visualising ourselves inside and outside simultaneously that we can prepare ourselves for occupation, for taking a city that has been colonised ----

Our strategies should have more in common with perfume adverts than articles in Socialist Worker,
-- promises of elevation, spell binding intoxication, infatuation and mad love are the tropes we should to collapse into.

Uninhabited acres of 'investment opportunities' with their bespoke kitchens, designer bathrooms, underfloor heating are the zones we should occupy---- -

security guards paid the minimum wage to sit around in kiosks of boredom are strategically placed ----
Berkeley, Ballymore, Barratt, Lend Lease, St Modwen--


ONE COMMERCIAL STREET, echo of Ballard's 'High Rise' -- economic apartheid, two doors, marble clad lobby at front, bin yard at back--
2015 promotional video pans around American Psycho high above the antagonisms of the city.

Every week the building is vexed by a voluble, aggressive presence, the burning of effigies, the assault on image-

  • lobby is rushed, concierge submerged in a melee of class anger.

hear the tannoy.
the tension, palpable in the alleyways,
feel it rising,,
hallucinogenic hate ….,

pressure on investors, negative ambience ..
..a detrimental and aggravating presence..

We should appropriate Bateman, the suave yuppie, with his smooth tan and Savile Row suit -
we should cloak ourselves in haute couture, the most exquisite scents and become an elegant, ruinous presence --


private roof top gardens commanding spectacular views... an extraordinary opportunity-
Its reconfiguration, its occupation, should emerge as a virulent strain under the skin of the development--

We need to mentally prepare ourselves for taking over these luxury dromes. We need to think how we will repurpose them.. We should visualise empty apartments as labyrinthine palaces with vast dining halls, opulent bars, hexagonal dance floors, prismatic walls of stained glass--..

We need to think of occupation as not just strategy but new mode of living--
a return to collectivity-- not to create 'pockets of resistance' but to hijack libidinal channels.. not to disavow luxury lifestyle but to reject deleterious individualism, neoliberal self interest-

--inversion, sleight of hand, projection...

the desire for more is there.. the yearning for transcendence ==

this isn't enough-- we're not getting what we want

a radical reordering, the scrambling intoxication of love--

you feel the exquisite rush of anticipation..
chalk marks on walls, staircases and landings..
saturated inscriptions, crossing, looping, overwriting.

beautiful views

magnificent apartments


By Laura Oldfield-Ford
STRIKE! Issue 17
Printed in Issue 17 Cities

Get it here

If you liked this, please