Canary Wharf Declaration

Fighting privatisation with privatisation

  • Privatisation, Public space,  Infrastructure, Water treatment, Profitability and public expenditure, Sky right

Yuliang Kang studio


In the UK, numerous public services have transitioned into private ownership alongside the sale of public land. This project introduces a toolkit to reevaluate our connection with the city and its resources. It employs urban public space and a unique profit model to harmonize the tension between public interest and profitability. This approach challenges conventional infrastructure and public domain systems.

Furthermore, by creating elevated public spaces, the project initiates a discourse on airspace ownership. This addresses the intrusion of skyscrapers on fundamental public rights like sight and light.

The project site is situated in Canary Wharf, London. By merging water treatment facilities with public space, the project investigates the positioning of public space within the urban framework.

  1. Rui Lin


The UK faced stagflation in the 1970s, and after Keynesian demand-side stimulus failed, Thatcher turned to supply-side reforms when she took over Downing Street from 1979-1990, with massive privatisation, deregulation, tax cuts, tight money to control inflation, and cuts in welfare spending, resulting in a successful economic transformation. At the same time, this opening up of privatisation had a consequence - a large number of state enterprises and public utilities were sold off to private individuals and corporations, with public entitlements then included in them.


From < Delirious New York >
< Delirious New York > brings a perspective of observing a city that it is not only combination of communities, systems, and organizations, but also a result of the mutual shaping of the producer and the product.

“City is the carrier of all activities”. At the moment when activities take place, the city culture begins to form and people are in the process of mutual shaping with the city.
Activities exist when there are people, and activities are the means to shape a city, while the city is the "architectural declaration" of urban activities.

Based on my understanding of the development of Manhattan, I have drawn five elements, namely 'money, creativity, policy, density, and foundation'. Through these elements, I will read how different behaviors have shaped the urban space in the UK in nearly a hundred years.


Capital: After Margaret Thatcher, privatization surged, boosting the UK economy and shifting public resources to private hands.

Technology: Tech created larger buildings but also restricted people.

Political: London's high-rises since 1930 prompted the Sight Act. Changes challenged its relevance.

People: Pseudo public spaces grew, parks turned commercial, open areas patrolled, streets privatized, activities became routine.

Space: Fake public spots emerged, parks commercialized, guarded lawns, streets privatized, activities repetitive.
Canary Wharf's Development:

Industrial revolution caused shrinkage in the 1960s; Government revived port in the 1980s, forming a business hub; 1990s saw financial firm collapse due to city crackdown; New millennium brought rail extension, local turnaround, financial sector growth.

Canary Wharf's history shows behavior and space influence each other. Like Manhattan, London seeks fresh possibilities in public space, marked by a new beginning.

Site analysis


    The logic of privatisation

    The real issue is not the distinction between 'public problems' and 'private problems', or whether a service should be provided by the government or by the market,  but rather 'how to make the rules better followed so that the division of labour between the various parties involved is more efficient and creates more value'. It should be about 'how to make the rules better followed, so that the division of labour and cooperation between all parties involved is more efficient and creates more value'.

    The public space is set up in such a way that it is maintained by the government and does not have the capacity to generate direct economic value.


    Public and locally owned governance are closely related. A group is only as aware as they are of the public problems they encounter and should therefore leave it to them to solve their public problems, rather than to another group to solve their public problems

    When public space has a value output, it can bring benefits to more people. A 'public defends the public, public defends the public' model is a way of sustaining the development of public space. The way for the public to defend the public is through the privatisation of public space, through the continuous creation of value, the defence of the public, and the empowerment of the public.



    Components and process