Fast Building: Money, Management and Risk at London’s Chelsea Harbour Development

Informa UK Limited
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Architectural Theory Review, 2022, 26, (1), pp. 56-75
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
Linking the financialization of architecture to commercial property development in the context of deregulation, this article examines the case of Chelsea Harbour, a seventeen-building mixed-use development completed in 1988 on the banks of the River Thames in West London. Ray Moxley, the architect who brought the project to fruition, was a proponent of what became known as fast building, a practice that used speed in the design and construction process as a means of holistic project control. In the 1970s, Moxley had developed what he called the Alternative Method of Management (AMM), an approach to project management that positioned the architect as the lynchpin of the construction process, directing all work on site and producing detailed construction drawings “just in time” as projects progressed. The article examines the fast-building practices Moxley instituted at Chelsea Harbour and situates them relative to larger shifts in planning and regulatory frameworks in the United Kingdom. The article argues that speed worked as a means by which the architect could negotiate these large-scale changes. In particular, the spatial innovation of Chelsea Harbour’s two centrepiece atrium buildings repositioned the architect as the manager of risk.
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