Mapping Architectural Controversies

Just picked this up off the Volume Magazine RSS [], a course initiated and managed by Dr Albena Yaneva of Manchester University which attempts to map architectural controversies for projects such as the London Olympic Stadium. The method is transferred from the social-scientific community, based on the work of Bruno Latour, and seems to ascribe to the fashionable Actor-Network Theory []:

“The methodological and conceptual roots of this approach stem from the discipline of Science Studies, with the writings of the French sociologist and philosopher Bruno Latour forming the primary source for its subsequent development. Latour first developed his ideas in relation to the analysis of scientific and technological controversies in his book Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers through Society, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1987. Controversy analysis is also part of the Actor-Network-Theory developed in his most recent book Reassembling the social: An introduction to actor-network-theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. ”

The published work samples to date seem to have followed the London Olympic Stadium with some animated network diagrams, with a bunch more seemingly in pipeline. The project sounds interesting, I would be curious about the production of outcomes which might effect the design or regulatory processes of similar schemes, so that the work becomes more then the recording of traces and relationships, but I’m ahead of myself there without having gone into this in any considerable depth.

Here’s some more about the project and its supporters:

“Documenting and visualising recent controversies in architecture, it also aims to address a broader audience interested in the design of cities, spatial networks and built environments as well as planners, representatives of city government, NGOs and citizens. As it is a part of the EU-funded project MACOSPOL, Mapping Architectural Controversies draws on a variety of documental sources and visual methods to explore the multifarious connections of architecture and society.”

London Olympic Stadium Visualisation

4 Replies to “Mapping Architectural Controversies”

  1. I’m particularly thinking about how these sorts of mapping strategies might be useful to trace local examples (such as nearly every “waterfront” design in Wellington and Auckland in the last five years), and reveal consistencies or inadequacies of the processes and final outcomes of the projects. I would love to have the ‘actual effectiveness’ of all the stakeholders represented and played out, who’s listening, who isn’t, who’s talking, and who’s being heard… It could make a huge difference to how organisations operate and facilitate effective resistance or dissidence for example, how designers might persuade clients more effectively with ammo, or small groups or individuals might deploy new tactics to engage with corporate identities.

  2. i dont think i fully understand this, but if it a visual recording of development processes it seems like it could just as easily be used to map political decision making. So that the effect of all the lobby groups and effected parties could be seen.

  3. Yes, definitely, if the information could be collected adequately (ie in ‘real time’ and from all the sources) then it could be used to read those relationships, and inform new ones. But it’s hard to tell if that information would be new or just ‘more efficient’…

    But i too don’t fully understand how to use ANT… so I’m just kicking tyres…

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