Modern Architecture as Inextensible

An Actor-Network Theory Account of Contested Design

  • Albena Yaneva University of Manchester


I will begin with this provocative, and quite unusual image, of an iconic building that we all know – the Eiffel Tower.  Some of you might have heard about the media debates surrounding the “new design for the restructuring of the public spaces of the Eiffel Tower” announced by the French architect David Serero in March 2008. He suggested doubling the size of the tower’s highest observational platform. The architect claimed that “his firm’s proposal was accepted after an open call, and that the structure is expected to be assembled for the 120th anniversary of the tower construction.” But shortly after that, the government-contracted firm that manages the tower – la Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel – stated that the claims of the architect are a “hoax.” The communication chief denied that there was ever any call for architects regarding plans to redevelop the top of the monument and that Serero Architects never presented themselves as candidates for such a competition. The media outlets that ran with the story included: The Guardian, The New York Times, Architect, Bustler, The Daily Telegraph and Belfast Telegraph.


Não há dados estatísticos.

Biografia Autor

Albena Yaneva, University of Manchester

Albena Yaneva is Professor of Architectural Theory at the University of Manchester. She has been Visiting Professor at Princeton School of Architecture and Parsons School of Design. In 2017 she was awarded the Lise Meitner Visiting Chair in Architecture at Lund University, Sweden.

After a PhD in Sociology and Anthropology from Ecole Nationale Supérieure des mines de Paris (2001) with Professor Bruno Latour, Yaneva has worked at Harvard University, the Max-Planck Institite for the History of Science in Berlin and the Austrian Academy of Science in Vienna. Her research is intrinsically transdisciplinary and spans the boundaries of science studies, cognitive anthropology, architectural theory and political philosophy.   Her work has been translated in German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Thai and Japanese. Her book The Making of a Building (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2009) provides a unique anthropological account of architecture in the making, whereas Made by the OMA: An Ethnography of Design (Rotterdam: 010 Publishers, 2009) draws on an original approach of ethnography of design and was defined by the critics as “revolutionary in analyzing the day-to-day practice of designers”. For her innovative use of ethnography in the architectural discourses Yaneva was awarded the RIBA President's Award for Outstanding University-located Research (2010).

Her book Mapping Controversies in Architecture (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012) brought the newest developments in social sciences into architectural theory. It introduced Mapping Controversies as a research and teaching methodology for following design debates.   A recent volume in collaboration with Alejandro Zaera-Polo What is Cosmopolitical Design? (Ashgate, 2015) questioned the role of architectural design at the time of the Anthropocene and provided many examples of cosmopolitically correct design.   Her more recent monograph is Five Ways to Make Architecture Political. An Introduction to the Politics of Design Practice (Bloomsbury, 2017).Taking inspiration from object-oriented political thought, this book engages in an informed enquiry into the different ways architectural design can be political and contributes to a better understanding of the political outreach of the engagement of designers with their publics.   Currently professor Yaneva is working on a new book that explores to the daily practices and politics of archive making based on ethnography of the Canadian Centre of Architecture in Montreal. 
Yaneva is the recipient of academic grants of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts in Chicago (2003), the British Academy (2008) and the EU (2008-2010). She has presented more than 100 international invited lectures and keynotes, including in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the USA. She is a member of the Peer Review College of the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economy and Society Research Council in the UK and serves as a reviewer for the National Science Foundations of USA, Switzerland, Austria, Irland and the Netherlands.

She is a judge for the 2017 RIBA President's Medals in the Silver Medal category, RIBA London: