Personal profile


Albena Yaneva is Professor of Architectural Theory. She holds a DEA from Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and a PhD from Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris (2001). She has been Visiting Professor at Princeton School of Architecture (2013), Parsons, New School (2015) and Politecnico di Turino (2018). She held the prestigious Lise Meitner Visiting Chair in Architecture at the University of Lund, Sweden (2017-2019). 

Her research is intrinsically transdisciplinary and crosses the boundaries of science studies, cognitive anthropology, architectural theory and political philosophy. She is the author of seven monographs: The Making of a Building (Peter Lang 2009), Made by the OMA: An Ethnography of Design (010 Publishers 2009), Mapping Controversies in Architecture (Routledge 2012), Five Ways to Make Architecture Political. An Introduction to the Politics of Design Practice (Bloomsbury 2017), Crafting History: Archiving and the Quest for Architectural Legacy (Cornell University Press 2020), Latour for Architects (Routledge 2022), Architecture After Covid (Bloomsbury 2023). She co-authored The New Architecture of Science: Learning from Graphene (World Scientific Publishing 2020) with the Nobel Laureate in Physics Sir Kostya S. Novoselov. She is also the editor of What is Cosmopolitical Design? (Routledge 2015, with Alejandro Zaera-Polo).

Her work has been translated into German, Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Thai, Polish, Turkish and Japanese. Yaneva has delivered more than 147 invited lectures at prestigious universities including in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Irland, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysa, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the USA. 42 of these were keynote addresses at major conferences. She is the recipient of the RIBA President’s award for outstanding university-based research (2010). 

She is also the recipient of academic grants of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts in Chicago (2003), the British Academy (2008), the EU (2008-2010), the Swedish Research Council (2019-2021) and the ESRC (2021-2022). She was 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, Ireland and the Netherlands. Yaneva was a judge for the 2017 RIBA President's Medals in the Silver Medal category, RIBA London and a panel member (output assessor) for REF2021 - sub-panels C13 and D32.

Research interests


Research Grants

2011-2012. Project: “Mapping Controversies @ Manchester: The Case of the 2012 London Olympics Stadium Design”; Methods@manchester competition in the Faculty of Humanities, University of Manchester, Sole Investigator, Grant: £4,298

2011. Project: “High-Speed Rail in Europe: Learning from the Design Controversies”; Research grant under the SED RSF 2010/2011, Principle Investigator (Co-I: Michael Hebbert and Simon Guy), Grant: £3,794

2010. Consultancy Grant from the Urban Research Plaza, Osaka for consultancy work on the editorial strategy of the new journal City, Culture & Society, Grant: £ 10, 270

2009. Publication grant from Stimuleringsfond voor Architectuur, Netherlands, for the monograph Made by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture: An Ethnography of Design, Rotterdam: 010 Publishers, 2009, Grant: € 6, 242

2008 – 2009. British Academy Small Research Grant “The Architectural Presentation: Techniques and Politics”. Sole investigator, Project grant: £ 5 999

2008 - 2010. MApping COntroversies on Science for POLitics (MACOSPOL), EU Project number: 217701; FP7-SCIENCE-IN-SOCIETY-2007-1, Leader of work package n 4, Coordinator: Bruno Latour, FNSP, Sciences-Po Paris, Project grant: € 118 645.56 out of € 924 514. 00



Current PhD Students

2018 – Simon Mitchell (AHRC scholarship) "Rethinking the Bauhaus Architectural Heritage: Logics of Valuation Through Collecting, Archiving, and Exhibiting" (1st supervisor)

2018 – Alexandra Arenes – (SEED scholarship) "Architectural Design at the Time of Anthropocene: A Gaia-graphic Approach to the Critical Zones" (1st supervisor)

2017 – Ben Blackwell (AHRC – TNW scholarship)  "Building a Graphene City: Infrastructuring a new Urban Ecology in Manchester" (2nd supervisor)

2017 – Demetra Kourri (SEED and Presidential scholarship) "Unfolding the Blanka Controversy: A Tunnel of Many Worlds"(1st supervisor)

2016 - Brett Mommertseeg (SEED scholarship award)  "Variations of a Building: an Ontological Politics of Architecture”(1st supervisor)

2016 - Fadi Shayya (Faculty scholarship award) “Material Politics of De/Militarization. Transfer of Military Technology and the Scripting of the Urban” (1st supervisor)

2016 - Stylianos Zavos (SEED scholarship award) “The Social Life of Buildings: Architect(ure) Revisited through a Greek Popular Housing Type”  (1st supervisor)

2014 – Amy Hanley “Programme-Space Types: Significant Change and Augmented Realities” (1st supervisor)


Completed PhD Students


2015-2019 Garrett Wolf (SEED scholarship) ”Demodernization and Development: Transformations of Uzbek Urbanism in the Making” (2nd supervisor)

2013-2016 Jeremy James (SEED scholarship award) “Lagos Global Project. Architecture and Urban Complexity”  (1st supervisor)

2012-2016 Yu Yoshii “The Role of the Alleyway in East Asia: Forms of Everyday Urban Life in Contemporary China and Japan" (1st supervisor)

2012-2016 Athena Moustaka “Reading Comfort Through the Material Agency of Concrete” (2nd supervisor)

2012 – 2016 Ahlam Sharif “The Transferability of Sustainable Design Concepts: The Case of Masdar Eco-City” (1st supervisor)

2012 – 2015 Paul Gottschling (SEED scholarship award) “Competition, Procurement, and the Everyday Design Practices of British Architects” (1st supervisor)

2010-2014 Övgü Pelen, “Living Sites: Rethinking the Social Trajectory of the Tophane Area in Istanbul” (1st supervisor)

2010-2013 Reyhan Sabri, “Rethinking the Past: An Analytic Methodology for Conservation of Islamic Architectural Heritage in Cyprus” (2st supervisor)

2009-2013 Liam Heaphy: “The Politics of Urban Heat: The Role of Modelling in Translating Urban Climate into Policy(1st supervisor)

2008–2012 Julie Crawshaw, “Beyond Targets: Articulating the Roles of Public Art in Support of Sustainable Communities” (1st supervisor)

2006-2010 Jan Fischer, “Sustaining Buildings: Designers as Intermediaries for Carbon Neutral Futures” (2nd supervisor)

2010-2012 Yasser Zarei, “The Challenges of Parametric Design in Architecture Today: Mapping the Design Practice" (1st supervisor - MPhil dissertation)





  • MAPPING CONTROVERSIES IN ARCHITECTURE (MArch level; Teaching Assistants:  Ben Blackwell and Demetra Kourri)

The Mapping Controversies course invites the students to face a key feature of architectural practice – its controversial nature. New technologies, exploding budgets, uncertain expertise, contested authorship, innovations in construction, changing demands of clients and communities of users – these are just some of the issues architectural controversies stem from. The course equips the students with a new methodology to study a specific controversy of relevance to their current studio work or dissertation interests. Mapping includes: collecting materials, following, analysing and visualizing the controversy. Drawing on a number of digital tools the students learn in class, they produce timelines of topical debates, actorial maps, trajectories of the changing positions of the protagonists in the debate, interactive diagrams, and websites. The analysis of each case is based on available on-line sources and media reports, as well as academic literature. Mapping controversies is a way to raise awareness of the social outreach of architecture and to prepare designers to better respond to the new political and economic challenges of practice. 

Course website:


  • ETHNOGRAPHIES OF PRACTICE (BA3 Elective course,Teaching Assistant:  Brett Mommersteeg)

Ethnography is one of few social research methods adapted to the way architects work. The use of anthropological methods in architecture holds remarkable potential to investigate new research and design questions. In this course, students are introduced to ethnography as an approach that pays attention to the texture of design practices, of urban life, and various situations of inhabitation. 

In the first part of the course, students read recent ethnographic studies (ie on OMA, Norman Foster’s practice, ARUP, etc.) and conduct an ethnographic study of an urban setting or a design practice. The outcome of these studies takes the form of an ethnographic film.

In the second part, drawing from their ethnographic studies, the students propose specific design interventions organised as a series of thought experiments and provocations that challenge conventional ways of design research.

  • I am actively involved in teaching in the research methods seminars for BArch Students at MSA and I am supervising 12 MA dissertations a year

Activities and esteem


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

Areas of expertise

  • NA Architecture
  • Architectural Theory
  • HM Sociology
  • Science and Technology Studies
  • Actor-Network Theory
  • GN Anthropology
  • Social Anthropology
  • Cognitive Anthropology

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Urban Institute


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