What is Necrotecture?

Caitlin Dempsey


Necrotecture is an urban planning coined termed by Rowland Atkinson to describe the “dead residential space” created by a high density of mostly vacant residential dwellings as a result of purchases by wealthy homeowners (not to be confused with the 2013 book about cemetery spaces by the same name).  The phenomenon of mostly-vacant luxury residential units helps to drive down the affordability of an urban area by increasing housing prices and reducing availability.  Atkinson focused his analysis on the city of London where he notes that “recent survey has shown that more than 510 high‐rise developments are now in progress or have received planning permission (New London Architecture, 2018). Yet almost none of the apartments in these towers will be affordable and close to zero public housing is reserved for those on no or low incomes.”  By focusing on attracting what Atkinson labels as ‘super-rich’ to its housing market, London’s city officials have created ‘a significant landscape of empty residential units.’


Atkinson, R. (2019). Necrotecture: Lifeless Dwellings and London’s Super‐Rich. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 43(1), 2-13.

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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.

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