Banks and Urban Image in Neoliberalism: Study of the Intentional Symbolism and Perceived Impact of Banks’ Headquarters Buildings in Hong Kong

    • Cover Photo
    • Presentation speakers
      • Gianni Talamini, City University of Hong Kong
      • Ting Liu, City University of Hong Kong


    Drawing inspiration from David Harvey’s conceptualization of the neoliberal city and Antonio Gramsci’s definition of hegemony, this research aims to provide a better understanding of how the employment of banks’ headquarters buildings as corporate symbols affects the image of the neoliberal city, with reference to Hong Kong as a case study. The research approaches the symbolism of banks’ headquarters buildings from different perspectives: (1) it investigates the intentional utilization of the headquarters buildings as symbols both in quantitative and qualitative terms, using the iconography of banknotes design as a case study; (2) it employs visibility analysis as an assessment tool in comparing banks’ headquarters buildings with other landmarks of the city skyline; (3) it analyses the perceived impact of banks’ headquarters buildings on the image of the city, by conducting a survey on random sample of local citizens and tourists. Results illustrates the intentional symbolism of banks’ headquarters buildings and their significant impact on the perceived image of the city, while demonstrating that these buildings are not the most visible of Hong Kong’s central districts. This research shades new light on the transfer of urban symbols from a set of meaning to a different one on the base of a common cultural hegemony. Moreover, this study argues that the defined transfer contributes to the consolidation of the hegemony of the capital.