Architecture Inside/Out Workshop #06

Is Architecture Accountable?

The Epistemological Offerings of Science Studies

It is often assumed that buildings reflect societies; planning systems embody politics; urban networks follow cultural patterns. Challenging the usual epistemologies of social sciences, Science and Technology Studies (STS) could offer a different understanding of what it means to supply a “social explanation” of architectural design, buildings and cities. This lecture discusses the potentials and challenges of Science Studies to provide new methods of enquiry in architecture: How are STS methods “transportable” to other fields of material practices? What are their epistemological offerings to architecture and urban studies? To illustrate the particular contribution of this approach for the understanding of design practice and buildings’ agency, Albena Yaneva draws on extensive empirical accounts of the practice of Rem Koolhaas.

Albena Yaneva is a Lecturer in Architectural Studies at the University of Manchester, The Manchester Architecture Research Centre. She holds a doctoral degree in Sociology from Ecole des Mines de Paris. She is the author of the books The Making of a Building: A Pragmatist Approach to Architecture, Oxford: Peter Lang (2009) and Made by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture: An Ethnography of Design, Rotterdam: 010 Publishers (2009), and the guest editor of Understanding Architecture, Accounting Society, 2008 (a special issue of Science Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Science and Technology Studies).

Research webpage: http://www.albenayaneva.com/

Staff page: http://www.sed.manchester.ac.uk/architecture/staff/yaneva_albena.htm

She has recently completed a project on the architecture of controversies drawing on the new developments in parametric modeling and science studies mapping: www.mappingcontroversoies.co.uk.