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Manchester Architecture Research Group

vintage sofa in room full of natural daylight

Projects

Our research projects may greatly vary in theme and scope, but they share an emphasis on the practices of design professionals and users, the processes of city-making, network dynamics, design innovations, and urban borderlands.

An anthropology of/with axonometric drawings

Project details

Principle investigator:

Co-investigator:

Researchers:

Funder:

Project overview

This project proposes an alternative methodology for the analysis of architectural drawings and other inscriptive practices.  The approach is grounded in the tradition of copying great masters’ work.  This is an approach taken in Japanese Calligraphy, the studios of great masters, and the beaux-arts tradition of architectural teaching and practice.  Such accounts of drawing are detailed in recent research by anthropologist Fuyubi Nakamura and visual artist Patricia Cain. This copying is intended to be a form of understanding native to the discipline of architecture, where many of the decisions and choices are expressed graphically through sketches, drawings, and plans.

I am studying architectural drawings from major archives and collections (primarily the CCA in Montreal and the RIBA in London) in order to replicate the drawing conventions and methods.  The aim is to provide a phenomenological account of the creative process in architecture, to understand the ways in which the lines are made, the order in which they are inscribed.  This approach is consistent with my earlier PhD research into notation as a creative practice, where elements of Laban notation were exploited in unusual circumstances such as the Tokyo Subway system, or a scene from Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. 

The key frameworks for the research are anthropologist Tim Ingold’s works on creativity and the line in particular.  Ingold’s pioneering of anthropology with creative practice stresses the engagement with the creative practice in question rather than simply sitting back and observing.  This necessitates a learning process in which the temporality of the inscriptive practice is examined.  Bergson’s work on creativity implicates this temporality as the key characteristic in determining the difference between artistic practices and speculative, scientific problem-solving. 

This research will be published as a monograph by Ashgate with the title 'Drawing Parallels: Knowledge Production in Axonometric, Isometric, and Oblique Drawings' and also feed into the BA Humanities teaching at Manchester School of Architecture, through the ongoing commitment to research-led teaching.  The research has focused on the following architects’ work:  Peter Eisenman, John Hejduk, J. J. P. Oud, James Stirling, and Cedric Price, and addresses the varieties of oblique drawing conventions.

An ethnography of design

Project details

Principal investigator: Albena Yaneva

Funding: Max Plank Institute for the History of Science in Berlin (research fellowship, 2001–2004), Harvard University fellowship (2004-2005), Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Chicago (2004); Stimuleringsfond voor Architectuur, Netherlands (publication grant, 2009).]

Project overview

The project provides an account of architectural design as taking place within the interactive networks of designers, models, paints and pixels, material samples and plans that all constitute the design world. By the means of an ethnographical approach that closely interacts with designing architects at the Office of Metropolitan Architecture the project:

  • furthers new knowledge about design invention and the nature of design process
  • redefines the role of the contemporary architect as an agent acting in the collective and versatile networks of design

The project sets a novel agenda by reconnecting architecture with the design materials and experiences, imagination and making, meaning and materiality. trajectorial nature of design as opposed to design as project realisation.

Publications

Books

  • Yaneva, A. (2009) The Making of a Building: A Pragmatist Approach to Architecture, Oxford: Peter Lang AG, 227p.
  • Yaneva, A. (2009) Made by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture. An Ethnography of Design, Rotterdam: 010 Publishers, 120p.

Articles and book chapters

  • Yaneva, A. (2005) “Scaling Up and Down: Extraction Trials in Architectural Design,” in Social Studies of Science, 35(6): 867-894.
  • Yaneva, A. (2005) “A Building is a Multiverse”, in B. Latour and Weibel P. (eds), Making Things Public, Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, pp. 530-535.
  • Yaneva, A. (2006) “Shaped by Constraints: Composite Models in Architecture,” in Hinterwaldner, I. and Buschhaus, M. (eds.) The Picture’s Image. Wissenschaftliche Visualisierung als Komposit, München: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, pp.68-84.
  • Yaneva, A. (2007) “Towards a New Understanding of Architecture of Addition: The Unrealized Extensions of Whitney Museum of American Art”, in M. Swenarton, I. Troiani and H. Webster (eds.), The Politics of Making, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Books Ltd, pp. 159-168.
  • Yaneva, A. (2010) “A Building Trajectory”, in Gagliardi, P., Latour, B. and Memmelsdorff, P. (eds.), Coping with the Past. Creative perspectives on Conservation and Restoration, Venice: Leo S. Olschki, Civiltà Veneziana Studi, pp.17-45.

Excerpts from reviews

  • “This book is an important experiment in describing and understanding architecture and design, precisely because of the significance Yaneva allocates to day-to-day practice: designing is largely a mundane activity, and this book is almost revolutionary in analysing that.” Robbert van Strien in Items #1 2010
  • “Yaneva arrives at convincing conclusions that can indeed make you look at the work of OMA in another way. The way in which models are used and qualities and characteristics are ascribed to them is hilarious. Yet Yaneva convincingly concludes that the model can have a mind of its own.” Joost Zonneveld at Archined, 23 March 2010
  • “Finally, an ethnography of design! Banham would be pleased to read Yaneva’s ethnographic account of the ‘tribe’ of architects housed in their ‘tribal longhouse’ on the Heer Bokkelweg.” Edwin Garner at Archis.org, 29 March 2010.
  • “In her book, Made by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Albena Yaneva reveals how an interest in the latter, the processes of making and the mechanisms by which ideas and models can migrate within an office environment, has informed some of the most influential architecture of the 21st Century so far.” Blueprint, OMA Remakes Architecture” by Adrian Friend, 23 February 2010.

Awards

RIBA President's Award for Outstanding University-located Research (2010).

Architecture and urban planning in socialism and after

Project details

Principal investigator: Łukasz Stanek

Funding: Stimuleringsfonds voor Architectuur (research fellowship and travel grant, 2006); the Berlage Institute (two conference grants, 2009), Jan van Eyck Academie (two conference grants, 2009), Adam Mickiewicz Institute (2014), Erste Stiftung (2014)

Project overview

This is a comparative study of “real existing modernism”, that is to say post-Stalinist architecture in socialist Europe. I am studying the development of modernism in the condition of state socialism (with de-commodification of land, socialist governance models, and strategies of dissidence) but also the continuities in architectural culture in the region since the late 19th century.

Main publications

  • Łukasz Stanek ed. Team 10 East. Revisionist Architecture in Real Existing Modernism, Warsaw: Museum of Modern Art, distributed by Chicago: University of Chicago Press (2014), 250 pages, ISBN 978-83-64177-03-3
  • Łukasz Stanek, Aleksandra Kędziorek, Architecture As a Pedagogical Object: What to Preserve of the Przyczółek Grochowski Housing Estate by Oskar & Zofia Hansen in Warsaw? Architektúra & Urbanizmus, no. 3—4 (December), 2012, 2—21, peer-reviewed

Architecture counter-projects

Project details

Principal investigator:  Isabelle Doucet

Funding:  SEED Research Stimulation Fund (2012), Methods@Manchester (2012-2013)

Project overview

Counter-projects are drawing-manifestoes, originating in Brussels, and used throughout the 1970s for processing architectural critique and formulating alternatives. They operated at the intersections of urban politics, cultural history and architectural education. Counter-projects moreover assisted the consolidation of a Reconstruction of the European City movement around, amongst others, Léon Krier and Maurice Culot. This project focuses on the emergence and maturation of counter-projects, and their impact on architectural and urban production; in Brussels and in the wider European context.

Because counter-projects touch upon questions related to radical architectural education, the uses of the past, methods for critical action in architecture, and the relationship between politics and aesthetics, they are also instructive as critical devices in their own right. This project therefore revisits the activist-educational roots of counter-projects also beyond the traditionalist realm of the Reconstruction movement. With an initial focus on Brussels (La Cambre), London (The Architectural Association), and Manchester (The Manchester School of Architecture), I study counter-projects emanating from diverging ideological and conceptual stances in architectural education.

Main publications

  • Isabelle Doucet, 'Counter-projects and the postmodern user' in: Use Matters. An Alternative History of Architecture, ed. by Kenny Cupers, Routledge 2013, pp. 233-247
  • Isabelle Doucet, 'Architecture between Politics and Aesthetics: Peter Wilson's "Ambivalent Criticality" at the Architectural Association in the 1970s', Architectural Theory Review, Volume 19, issue 1, 2014, pp. 98-115.

Bulgaria’s abandoned elderly: Living alone in shrinking villages and cities

Project details

Principal investigator: Deljana Iossifova

Funding: University of Manchester (Research Stimulation and Impact Fund; 2016)

Project overview

Due to low fertility rates and unprecedented outmigration of young people, Bulgaria’s population has decreased by 1.5 million in only 30 years and stands now at 7.1 million; the country is ranked fourth in the world for its proportion of people above the age of 60. Following massive international as well as internal rural-to-urban migration, Bulgaria’s elderly are left behind to cope without support. Two thirds of them are at risk of poverty or social exclusion. The everyday challenges they face in cities, towns and villages remain relatively unexplored.

In order to deploy appropriate interventions, policy makers and other stakeholders at the local, national and international levels require an in-depth understanding of the main concerns of senior citizens.

This project sheds light on the lived experience of abandoned elderly in the context of Bulgaria’s rapid economic downturn and population shrinkage.

Further information

Climate Resilient Cities and Infrastructure (RESIN)

Project overview

Working within an innovative cross-European partnership, University of Manchester researchers are supporting the development of approaches to enhance the resilience of Europe’s cities and urban critical infrastructure to extreme weather and climate change. The RESIN project will develop tools and methodologies that not only support well-informed urban planning and decision making, but also encourage the market deployment of innovative climate adaptation and resilience approaches.

Background

RESIN is a €7.5 million European Union funded Horizon 2020 project, running from May 2015 until November 2018. The consortium consists of 17 partners from 8 European countries, experienced in urban resilience and climate change.

The proposal was regarded as exceptional by the European Commission (achieving an evaluation score of 15/15). RESIN is coordinated by Nederlandse Organisatie Voor Toegepast Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek (TNO).

RESIN project outputs will be developed and applied in four case study areas – Bilbao, Bratislava, Paris and the Greater Manchester city-region. Learning generated within the project will be transferred to a series of ‘second tier’ cities identified with the collaboration of ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability).

Urban Resilience – assessing, prioritising and standardising

The RESIN project recognises that extreme weather and climate change pose an ever increasing threat to both quality of life and the future prosperity of cities. Over a 42 month period, the project will develop outputs to increase the resilience of cities to extreme weather and climate change risks. This includes:

  • Linking existing approaches to climate change adaptation and disaster risk management, working towards a resilience approach with a core focus on critical infrastructure.
  • Providing a conceptual and methodological toolkit to explore the potential for standardised methods to build resilience to climate change and its associated vulnerabilities and risks. This will include an inventory of potential adaptation measures, alongside standardised methods for prioritisation.
  • Developing a framework to address the governance of the adaptation planning process, involving different stakeholders and sectors in order to optimise efforts.
  • Generating on-line decision support tools and guidance, to facilitate the formulation of adaptation strategies by local administrations and private stakeholders (such as infrastructure network managers).
  • Incorporating extensive consultation and testing in ‘real life’ urban situations, ensuring that frameworks and tools developed by RESIN can be applied in practice.
  • Collaborating with a European Standardisation organisation (NEN) to prepare project outputs that will ensure climate change adaptation can be progressed in a systematic and reproducible fashion.

Our role

The University of Manchester has a leading role in both the conceptual and empirical aspects of RESIN. Our key contributions include:

  • Facilitating the development of a conceptual framework to guide the project and its various work packages.
  • Creating and testing a ‘city typology’ that will characterise cities according to factors linked to adaptation and resilience. The typology will encourage the development of responses more closely tailored to the characteristics of specific urban areas.
  • Working with the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA), and other bodies across the Greater Manchester region, to explore the climate resilience of the conurbation’s critical infrastructure systems and support the development and testing of decision support tools.

Our team

RESIN is underpinned by close working relationships between universities, research institutes, the private sector and municipal authorities.  Accordingly, the Greater Manchester team brings together practitioners and academics in the fields of climate change adaptation and urban resilience.

Local partners

Further information

RESIN builds on over a decade of innovative, and highly impactful, climate change adaptation and resilience research at the University of Manchester. This includes:

 

Criticality and the practice turn in architecture

Project details

Principal investigator:  Isabelle Doucet

Funding:  Scientific Research and Innovation of Brussels, Prospective Research for Brussels Grant (2004-2008)

Project overview

Confronted with a recent practice turn in architectural theory this project analyses critical and ethical operations within architecture that, instead of deploying distance and abstraction, operate in situated, relational, and embodied manners. By investigating modes of critical engagement that operate through practice, I challenge the fatalistic association of the practice turn in architecture with a post-political and post-theoretical turn.

This project is therefore a conceptual and methodological exploration into critical operations from-within. By extension, it revisits the possibilities for architectural theory to re-claim and reinvigorate its critical program.

This ambitious undertaking is divided in several sub-projects. These include the study of the relationship between theory and practice through the notion of agency and transdisciplinarity. It also theorises the translation of relational and pragmatist perspectives into architectural theory and the consequent opportunities and threats for critical architecture.

Finally, I study the potential of critical action from-within through concrete critical operations, such as those in Brussels after 1968.

Main publications

  • Isabelle Doucet and Nel Janssens, eds., Transdisciplinary Knowledge Production in Architecture and Urbanism. Towards Hybrid Modes of Inquiry (Berlin and Heidelberg: Springer, Urban and Landscape Perspective Series, 2011).
  • Isabelle Doucet and Kenny Cupers, eds. ‘Agency in Architecture: Reframing Criticality in Theory and Practice’, special issue, Footprint Journal, Issue 4, Spring 2009.
  • Isabelle Doucet, ‘Making a city with words. Understanding Brussels through its urban heroes and villains’, City, Culture, and Society, volume 3, issue 2, 2012, pp. 105-116.
  • Isabelle Doucet, ‘Learning from Brussels. An irreductive approach to architectural and urban problématiques?’, Belgeo, 2011, issue 1-2, pp. 29-39.
  • Forthcoming book manuscript (2015) on the practice turn in architecture, using case studies from Brussels after 1968.

Defining the urban: Transdisciplinary perspectives

Project details

Principal investigator:  Deljana Iossifova

Project overview

This project’s key objective is to provide a platform for the development of new, collaborative and transdisciplinary approaches to urban challenges. It aims: to give an overview of definitions of ‘urban’ in different academic disciplines and professional fields; to outline a wide range of theoretical frameworks and practical methods; and to establish transdisciplinarity as the new status quo in urban practice and research.

Main publications

  • Deljana Iossifova, Christopher N. Doll, Alexandros Gasparatos. ed. Defining the Urban: interdisciplinary and professional perspectives. Farnham: Ashgate, forthcoming.

Future City Systems

Project details

Principal Investigator: Deljana Iossifova

Partners: Ulysses Sengupta (Manchester Metropolitan University), Michael Weinstock (Architectural Association)

Funding: Higher Education Innovation Fund (Eco-Innovation Voucher; 2015)

Project overview

This is a collaborative project between the Manchester School of Architecture (University of Manchester/Manchester Metropolitan University) and Architectural Association. 

Complexity, Planning and Urbanism (CPU) and Emergent Technologies and Design (EmTech) will work together to develop novel approaches to research- and evidence-based architectural and urban design.

New analytical frameworks will help to understand urban processes using a complexity science approach and building on interdisciplinary collaboration and transdisciplinary knowledge emerging from the ESRC Strategic Network Data and Cities as Complex Adaptive Systems (DACAS).

Harmonica Alley, Yokohama: A visual ethnography

Project details

Principal investigator:  Deljana Iossifova

Co-Investigators: Ulysses Sengupta, Heide Imai

Research students: Maria-Magdalena Atanasova, Daniel Kempski, Paulina Kowalska, Diana Muresan, Ivana Tosheva, Matthew Walker, Larissa Weinmann

Funding:  Daiwa Foundation Award (2014/15), Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation (2015), University of Manchester Public Engagement Fund (2016)

Project overview

This project explores sociospatial transformation in Noge, Yokohama’s infamous entertainment district. It focuses on the stories and experiences of proprietors in Miyakobashi Shopping Centre, a building constructed in 1964 in view of Tokyo’s Summer Olympics. The shopping centre transformed a formerly cluttered black market area into an orderly urban marketplace. Today, it contains 61 bars and small restaurants. The project offers intimate insights into urban restructuring and cultural shifts in the context of changing Japan. 

Main outputs

Books

  • Iossifova, D. and U. Sengupta. ed. (2016) [61] Harmonica Alley, Yokohama. Manchester: SoftGrid.

Exhibition

  • [61] Harmonica Alley, Yokohama. Grosvenor Gallery, Manchester, 8-19 February 2016.

Further information

Jetty project

Project details

Principal investigator:  Wolfgang Weileder (Newcastle University)

Co-investigator:  Simon Guy (MARC)

Researcher: Angela Connelly (MARC)

Funding:  £347,195, Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

Duration: October 2013-March 2015

Email: Angela Connelly

Project overview

How can a practice-led fine art project meaningfully contribute to the multi-layered debate around sustainability in the urban realm?  Jetty, an AHRC funded project, aims to answer this question through the development and realisation of a temporary artwork.

Further information

Knowing from the inside: Architecture, art, anthropology and design

Project details

Principle investigator: Professor Tim Ingold (Aberdeen)

Advisory board member/associate researcher: Dr Ray Lucas (University of Manchester) 

Funder: European Research Council

Project overview

This cross-disciplinary project looks at the intersections between anthropology, art, architecture and design.  I am a member of the consultative group (six-strong in total, I represent the field of architecture) for this large European Research Council advanced grant project led by anthropologist Tim Ingold.  The project’s aim is to understand existing connections and establish further links between architecture, art, design and anthropology.  My role is defined both as external advisors and as associate researcher, working closely with the core group of doctoral candidates and postdoctoral researchers in Aberdeen.  The project builds on established research networks and a series of consultative meetings in 2011, my role is to provide advice in my fields of expertise, as well as to give overall guidance and direction to the project as a whole. 

I attend meetings, both as a member of the wider group and individually with sub-project researchers.  The role of the associate researchers included developing the initial proposal, working on a conference, exhibitions, and publications, and conducting original research under the banner of the overall project. 

Within the scope of the research project, I am working on a project on Sanja Matsuri, in collaboration with Dr Darren Deane of Westminster University, and the research group informs my two MARC Workshops for MArch students in 'Knowledge Production in Architecture' and 'Filmic Architecture'.

Further information

Lives on the borderland: The sociospatial transition of a neighbourhood in Shanghai

Project details

Principal investigator:  Deljana Iossifova

Funding:  Monbukagakusho Scholarship (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan) 2006-2009; UNU-IAS PhD/Postdoctoral Fellowship (United Nations University, Institute of Advanced Studies) 2009/2010; Our Common Future Fellowship 2010

Project overview

This project explored the interaction and transformation of diverse socioeconomic, cultural or otherwise defined groups on the physical ‘borderland’ between old and new residential areas in Shanghai.

Main publications

  • Deljana Iossifova. "Borderland Urbanism: seeing between enclaves." Urban Geography (2014). DOI:10.1080/02723638.2014.961365
  • Deljana Iossifova. "Searching for common ground: Urban borderlands in a world of borders and boundaries." Cities 34 (2013): 1-5. DOI:10.1016/j.cities.2013.01.006
  • Deljana Iossifova. "Shanghai Borderlands: The Rise of a New Urbanity?" In Urban Theory Beyond the West: A World of Cities, ed. Tim Edensor, Mark Jayne, 193-206. London and New York: Routledge, 2011.
  • Deljana Iossifova. "Blurring the Joint Line? Urban life on the edge between old and new in Shanghai." URBAN DESIGN International  14(2009): 65-83. DOI:10.1057/udi.2008.9
  • Iossifova, Deljana. "Negotiating Livelihoods in a City of Difference: Narratives of Gentrification in Shanghai." Critical Planning 16(2009): 98-116.

Mapping controversies in architecture

Project details

Principal investigator:  Albena Yaneva

Funding: EU Funding, FP7-SCIENCE-IN-SOCIETY-2007-1 (2008-2010); methods@manchester (2011-2012)

Project overview

How can we conceptualize architectural objects and practices without falling into the divides architecture/society, nature/culture, materiality/meaning? How can we prevent these abstractions from continuing to blind architectural theory? Mapping Controversies is a research method and teaching philosophy that allows divides to be crossed. It offers a new methodology for following debates surrounding contested urban knowledge.

Engaging in explorations of on-going and recent controversies (the 2012 Olympics stadium in London, the Welsh parliament) and re-visiting some well-known debates (i.e. the Sidney Opera House), the project illustrates ways of tracing the changing sets of positions triggered by design. By mobilizing digital technologies and new computational design techniques we are able to visualise the variety of factors that impinge on design and track actors’ trajectories, changing groupings, concerns and modalities of action. Mapping controversies can be extrapolated to a wide range of complex phenomena of hybrid nature.

Main publications

  • Yaneva, A. (2012) Mapping Controversies in Architecture, Farnham: Ashgate, 144 p. ISBN: 978-1-4094-2668-4.
  • Yaneva, A. (2010) “The Architectural as a Type of Connector”, Perspecta 42, The Yale Architectural Journal, The MIT Press, pp. 138-143.
  • Yaneva, A. (2010) “From Reflecting-in-Action Towards the Mapping of the Real”, in Doucet, I. and Janssens, N.(eds.) Transdisciplinary Knowledge Production in Architecture and Urbanism. Towards hybrid modes of inquiry, Vienna, New York: Springer, pp. 117-128.
  • Yaneva, A. and Heaphy, L. (2012) “Urban Controversies and the Making of the Social”, Architectural Research Quarterly, Volume 16(1), pp 29-36

Excerpts from reviews

  • Mapping Controversies demonstrates the intricacies and continued dialogue that architecture creates as a connecting thread in society. This is why the book offers much for architectural pedagogy. (…) This way of understanding buildings as cultural processes and not mere outcomes of a linear process asks acute questions about the teaching of architecture”, Vikas Mehta, “Mapping Controversies in Architecture”, in Journal of Urban Technology, 21:3, 2004, 108-109. 
  • “Yaneva makes a heartfelt attempt to address the very real problem currently threatening the academic understanding of architectural history; namely, the reading of buildings as the crystallised effects of the political and economic world that produced them. It’s the type of view that sees the Dome as Tony Blair’s ideas incarnate, utterly negates not just the technological aspect of architectural production but its complexity. It ignores the way buildings emerge from a set of social concerns, as much as they address them. Yaneva should be praised for raising concerns about this trend.” Tim Abrahams, The Architects’ journal, 29 March, 2012. 
  • “By crossing the tools of science studies with the digital techniques of mapping controversies, this book renews the critique of architecture. With many lively examples it is a masterpiece of theory made empirical.” Bruno Latour, Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris, France  
  • “The ambition is no less than to transform both architectural theory and education. (…)  Is Mapping Architectural Controversies a new ontology, a new didactical tool, a new methodology, a manifesto? The answer: it is all of these. The approach, the methods, and the theories laid out in Yaneva’s book hold immense potential for both architectural education and research in the field of architectural practice”, Katrine Lotz, “Architecture as Moving Projects”, in Nordic Journal of Architecture No 3, 2012, 140-141.

Further information

Materialising the right to the city: Social infrastructures in Ecuador

Project details

Principal investigator:  Leandro Minuchin

Funding:  National Research Council (Ecuador, Senecyt)

Project overview

The project examines the conceptual trajectory of the right to the city in Latin America and describes the limits and tensions of the current normative phase. The research revisits Lefebvre’s original theorizations to illuminate the role infrastructures of proximity play in the unfolding of everyday practices in popular settlements. The research investigates alternative construction systems for housing provision in Ecuador.

Working together with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development in Ecuador and a local NGO in Guayaquil, the research developed a housing typology for Monte Sinaí, that included the following characteristics:

  1. standardised panels for affordable progressive adaptations,
  2. local production of building components, and
  3. visual methods to register local construction practices.

As an output, a housing prototype in Guayaquil was built and a contract between MIDUVI and the local NGO to construct 320 additional units has been signed.

Materialist epistemologies of architecture after 1968

Project details

Principal investigator: Łukasz Stanek

Funding: Swiss National Science Foundation (research fellowship, 2003–2004), Delft University of Technology (PhD fellowship and travel grants, 2005–2008), Jan van Eyck Academie (research fellowship and conference grant, 2008—2009), Fonds voor Beeldende Kunsten, Vormgeving en Bouwkunst (travel grant, 2008), ETH Zurich (travel grant, 2008), Brupbacher Foundation (conference grant, 2010), Canadian Center for Architecture (research fellowship, 2011), Graham Foundation (publication grant, 2011), and Center for Advanced Studies in Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington D. C. (research fellowship, 2011—2013)

Project overview

Starting with the work of Henri Lefebvre, I am studying epistemologies which theorize architecture as a part of the social production of space. The potential of Lefebvre’s work for current urban and architectural research needs to be critically considered as a part of broader theoretical landscape which includes, besides Marxism and neo-Marxism, post-structuralism, feminist, and postcolonial theories.

Main publications

  • Łukasz Stanek, Henri Lefebvre on Space: Architecture, Urban Research, and the Production of Theory, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press (2011), 392 pages, ISBN 978-0-8166-6617-1
  • Toward an Architecture of Enjoyment by Henri Lefebvre, ed. Łukasz Stanek, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press (2014), 248 pages, ISBN 978-0-8166-7720-7-1
  • Łukasz Stanek, Ákos Moravánszky, Christian Schmid eds. Urban Revolution Now. Henri Lefebvre in Urban Research and Architecture, Aldershot: Ashgate (2014)

Further information

Mathematisation of Daylighting: a history of British architects’ use of the daylight factor

Project details

Principal Investigator: Alan Lewis

Funding: RIBA and Thomas Pocklington Trust (2013-2014)

Project overview

British post-war planning guidance proposed that cities be rebuilt according to scientific principles. Mathematical tools, such as the daylight factor, were devised to determine built form. Although the precise calculation used has developed in intervening years, the daylight factor is still the principal metric used in guidance on daylighting.

Recent research indicates that many new-build housing schemes do not comply with recommended daylight factors, and that few architects undertake daylight factor calculations when designing buildings. This is a cause for concern given that previous studies have demonstrated the health benefits of good daylighting.

This study will explore whether the Modernist ambition, for buildings to be designed according to mathematically verifiable principles, was realised in relation to daylighting. The study will draw on interviews with architects and retired architects, to investigate how approaches to daylighting have changed over time, and to explore how useful daylighting metrics have been in creating high standards of daylighting. The study’s findings will inform future design guidance.

Oxford road as a living laboratory

Project details

Principal investigator:  Andrew Karvonen

Funding:  Higher Education Innovation Fund

Project overview

This project involves a knowledge exchange partnership with Corridor Manchester, a public-private consortium that is transforming Oxford Road into the hub of the burgeoning knowledge economy in Manchester. The project team is collaborating with Corridor Manchester to direct teaching and research activities towards Oxford Road. This specially designated area serves as a living laboratory to conduct experiments on urban development that can feed into city-wide policies.

Key publications

  • Andrew Karvonen, James Evans, and Bas van Heur. "The politics of urban experiments: radical change or business as usual?." In After Sustainable Cities?, ed. Mike Hodson, Simon Marvin, 104-115. Abingdon: Routledge, 2014. eScholarID:225218
  • Andrew Karvonen and Bas van Heur. "Urban laboratories: experiments in reworking cities." International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 38, no. 2(2014) : 379-392. eScholarID:123865
  • James Evans and Andrew Karvonen. "'Give me a laboratory and I will lower your carbon footprint!' – urban laboratories and the governance of low carbon futures." International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 38, no. 2(2014) : 413-430. eScholarID:123868
  • James Evans and Andrew Karvonen. "Living laboratories for sustainability: exploring the politics and epistemology of urban transition." In Cities and Low Carbon Transitions, ed. Harriet Bulkeley, Vanesa Castán Broto, Mike Hodson, and Simon Marvin, 126-141. London: Routledge, 2011. eScholarID:86788

Further information

Sanitation and differentiation in urban China

Project details

Principal investigator:  Deljana Iossifova

Funding:  University of Manchester, SEED Research Stimulation Fund 2012/13

Project overview

This project is concerned with one of the most pertaining issues for growing cities in China and their existing and future residents: sanitation. Alongside significant economic growth over the past three decades, municipalities in the PRC face rapidly expanding urban populations, dwindling natural resources, rising inequality and the coexistence of traditional and modern sanitation systems and practices in fragmented and speedily transforming cities.

Through the lens of everyday sanitation, the project explores the short- and long-term social rifts that these conditions bring about.

Main publications

  • Deljana Iossifova. "Of Poo and People: Sanitation and Differentiation in Urban China." Our World (2014)

South of east-west: Post-colonial planning, technology transfer and the Cold War

Project details

Principal investigator: Łukasz Stanek

Funding: Funded by ETH Zurich (research fellowship, 2010), Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw (research fellowship and exhibition grants, 2009—2011), Berlage Institute (conference grant, 2010), Mondriaan Fonds (exhibition grant, 2010), CASCO Utrecht (travel fellowship, 2012), Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University (2014)

Project overview

I am studying the emergence of modernism as the techno-cultural mode of urbanization becoming a global phenomenon during the Cold War. Global modernism was produced by multiple, and often competing, networks of world-wide cooperation, which, besides Western “globalization”, included socialist internationalism, the Non-Aligned Movement, and Pan-African cooperation. With case studies from Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East, I am interested in distributed authorship, network analysis, planetary urbanization, and new products of architectural labour since the 1960s.

Main publications

  • Łukasz Stanek, Miastoprojekt Goes Abroad. Transfer of Architectural Labor from Socialist Poland to Iraq (1958—1989), The Journal of Architecture (London), Vol. 17, No. 3, 2012, pp. 361—86, peer-reviewed
  • Łukasz Stanek, Second World’s Architecture and Planning in the Third World, introduction to the volume Cold War Transfer. Architecture and Planning from Socialist Countries in the “Third World”, edited by Łukasz Stanek and Tom Avermaete, The Journal of Architecture (London), Vol. 17, No. 3, 2012, pp. 299—307, peer-reviewed
  • Łukasz Stanek, Postmodernism Is Almost All Right. Polish Architecture after Socialist Globalization, Warsaw: Fundacja Bęc-Zmiana (2012), 96 pages, ISBN 978-83-62418-14-5

Further information

Strategic Network: Data and Cities as Complex Adaptive Systems

Project details

Principal investigator: Deljana Iossifova

Co-investigators:

Partners:

  • Panagiotis Angeloudis (Imperial College London)
  • Shidan Cheng (Wuhan University)
  • Daniel Graham (Imperial College London)
  • Jun Luo (Wuhan University)

Non-academic partners:

  • Association of Greater Manchester Authorities
  • Future Cities Catapult
  • Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce
  • Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)

Funding: Economic and Social Research Council (2015), £100,799

Project overview

The ESRC Strategic Network ‘Data and Cities as Complex Adaptive Systems’ (DACAS) seeks to progress an integrated approach to the study, planning and design of cities.

Despite increasing attention on the application of new information flows to the design and development of ‘smart’ cities, our understanding of the interconnections between ‘hard’ infrastructure and economic, ecological and social systems in urban areas remains limited.  

DACAS brings together an international group of researchers from a range of different fields to support the development of an innovative and cross-disciplinary set of tools to gather, integrate and interpret a wide range of emerging data sources. Findings will benefit policy-makers, academics and other actors seeking to develop evidence-based responses to urban issues using open data.

The project develops in a series of events and workshops in Manchester, Sao Paulo and Wuhan:

  • Cities as Complex Systems, Launch, Manchester Metropolitan University, 1-3 February 2016
  • Modelling Urban Systems, Workshop, Sao Paulo State University, 20-24 June 2016
  • Understanding Urban Transformations through Data, Summer School, University of Manchester, 12-16 September 2016
  • Digital Tools for Urban Challenges, Workshop, Wuhan University, 24-28 October 2016

Further information

Taxonomy of the spatial agency of Namdaemun Market, Seoul

Project overview

This project shall examine Namdaemun Market, a mixed marketplace area in central Seoul.  The market is part of a larger ecosystem of markets including Dongdaemun fabric market, Dongdaemun flea market, Noryangjin Seafood market, and Gwangjang street-food night market. 

The aim of this research is to establish a methodology for describing the patterns of agency across the site: the degree of control which vendors and buyers have over the environment, which external factors are determinants in this.  The model of agency is drawn from Alfred Gell’s Art-Nexus diagram, a matrix of possibilities which can be used as a form of mapping to describe the various human and non-human participants in the social life of a scene. 

This methodology will describe the interactions between people; relations to the built environment; the role material culture such as trestles and castors; mobile and fixed architectures; institutional regulation and softer forms of mediation between adjacent vendors; weather and other conditions; trust and portering; and a wide range of other conditions.  This complexity can be rendered manageable and understandable through careful mapping and diagramming. 

The aim is to show that the market consists of a systematic organisation of space and social life, despite the apparent chaos.  This description can form the basis of design, the methodology applied to new sites as a part of the design process in order to inform a more socially sensitive architecture which has long been argued for, but rarely systematised. 

Documentation will take the form of multiple representations, consistent with earlier research which conclude that drawings, interviews, sound recordings, notations, photographs, video, and other inscriptive and recording practices can, when layered and taken together, give a much more complete image of a place.  No single representation can tell the whole story. 

Research phases

Field research shall be conducted in two phases: 

  1. Undertake a careful and detailed graphic anthropology survey, using the multiple representation methodology outlined above.  A survey of the site will be undertaken, describing the temporal and spatial aspects of the market including delivery and portering activities, food stalls serving customers and vendors, retail and wholesale activities, money changing and banking.  
  2. Develop an interview methodology pioneered on an earlier research project (Cultures of Legibility, University of Edinburgh 2009-10) interrogating the spatial understanding of Jakarta by a wide variety of residents from taxi drivers to informal street sellers and police officers.  This uses a mental mapping method drawn from Gould & White and Kevin Lynch alongside video interviews to discern how people use and understand their city.  This part of the project would utilise postgraduate student researcher assistants from Seoul Tech (I already have a tacit agreement that Seoul Tech can contribute resources to this activity), building on existing collaborations, and students from our own cohort on exchange in Seoul.  I have presented early results of this at a range of conferences, and exhibited drawings in group shows ahead of further development of the project.

The morphology and ethnography of the urban marketplace in South Korea

Project overview

This project builds on contacts made at Seoul National University of Science & Technology (aka Seoul Tech) in October 2011, and some initial investigations into a number of marketplaces in Seoul and Daegu.  The marketplace is a fundamental urban typology with a long history of theorisation.  That said, as ad-hoc and improvised spaces, they are not often considered in detail by the design disciplines of architecture and urban design.  Instead, the interpretation is largely the domain of anthropology and the social sciences.  

This leads to a paucity of understanding of such crucial sites of exchange in the city.  I am studying several markets in South Korean cities, as these vibrant and non-designed spaces can teach us a great deal as case-studies for anthropologically and socially informed architectures.  Such markets can be understood as a series or knot of spatial and temporal practices.  This practice-based approach is once again a case-study for deeper understanding of the urban condition as fundamentally social. 

A collaboration with Associate Professor Alfred Hwangbo at Seoul Tech is central to this. We are working with Masters students at Seoul Tech as research assistants producing detailed survey data of Seomun Shijang in Daegu.  The policy of ‘Sacralisation’ lies behind the redevelopment of city parks.  Markets are clearly one of the next targets for rationalisation after Tapgol Park and Cheonggyecheon Stream as is evidenced by the ongoing Dongdaemun Design Plaza scheme by the office of Zaha Hadid. 

The aim of the research is to use time in selected markets in South Korea in order to understand the building types and patterns of occupation common to the market.  The means for this is primarily graphic, with substantial survey drawings forming the initial research, looking at the patterns of permanent and temporary occupation.  This uses conventional architectural drawing techniques such as figure/ground diagrams Lynchian imageability, socially informed diagramming from Alfred Gell (including ‘Strathernograms’ and Agency-matrices), Mario Gandelsonas’ analytical analyses, Geddes’ Notation of Life, and orthographic drawings of plan, section, elevation, and axonometric.  

The overall aim is to produce as full a picture as possible of the marketplaces of South Korea and to build on the work I have already done on bringing the fields of architecture and anthropology together.  This continuity of contact with colleagues in Seoul Technical University also holds the potential for cross-institutional workshops and student exchanges, something that they have expressed a clear desire for.  I have already made contact with the architecture department there, giving an invited lecture in October 2011 and conducting joint research on Daegu’s Seomun Market in 2012.  

Threshold machines: How Sanja Matsuri makes Asakusa

Project overview

The idea of placemaking has recently gained traction in policy contexts within planning debates, but the terms of this are rather loosely defined and reinforce or validate existing practices more than they allow for understanding historic events such as the annual Sanja Matsuri in Asakusa district of Tokyo. 

Sanja Matsuri represents an embodied enactment of urbanism: that the people of Asakusa make a clear statement of belonging and of their right to the city.  By enacting their urbanism, the people of Asakusa ensure the continuity of their district in a tangible manner: a solidarity is underlined and a common purpose gives a sense of unity. 

The event presents a number of challenges to conventional urban and architectural representation.  This calls for a multiple methods approach in order to understand the context as it unfolds and develops, combining lens-based media with drawings and other forms of notation in order to establish the fullest picture of how the festival unfolds.  Drawing is a form of understanding which is directly relevant to architecture, and which gives a fine grain of spatial information. 

The procession produces place by continually redefining thresholds.  As the events develop, conditions of inside and outside are continually defined by the actions of participants.  Memories of this reconfiguration of space linger long after the matsuri is over each May.  This place making is achieved by agreement with the people of Asakusa: the embodied urbanism which not only defines the space of the district, but also neighbourhood bonds and identity. 

Methods of Graphic Anthropology shall be tested in this project, which is still under development. 

Triangulum: Three points of light

Project details

Principal investigator: James Evans

Co-investigators: Andrew Karvonen and Krassimira Paskaleva

Funding:  European Commission Horizon 2020 Programme, £965,000

Project overview

Working with the cities of Eindhoven in the Netherlands and Stavanger in Norway in a consortium called Triangulum, Manchester City Council has been awarded a share of the pot in a European Commission scheme to demonstrate 'smart green growth' - reducing carbon emissions while boosting the economy.

The Manchester part of the project focuses on The Corridor and is led by Manchester City Council, working alongside The University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and Manchester-based businesses Siemens and digital technology company Clicks and Links. The funding will enable investment in technologies from renewable energy and storage to improved distributed energy efficiency and intelligent energy management using ICT data. It will also support the increased use of electric vehicles. Evans, Karvonen, and Paskaleva will lead the academic work package for the project.

Further information

University living lab for sustainability

Project details

Principle investigator: James Evans

Co-investigator: Andy Karvonen

Researchers: Lucy Millard, Ross Jones, Helen Cutts

Funder: University of Manchester Research Institute, Higher Education Innovation Fund

Project overview

The University Living Lab is developing the University of Manchester campus as a site for applied teaching and research around sustainability and low carbon. This university-wide programme provides a platform for collaboration between researchers, students, external stakeholders and the Directorate of Estates and Facilities to deploy and monitor new technologies and services in real world settings.

Further information