Five Ways to Make Architecture Political: An Introduction to the Politics of Design Practice

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


Five Ways to Make Architecture Political presents an innovative pragmatist agenda that will inspire new thinking about the politics of design and architectural practice.

Moving beyond conventional conversations about design and politics, the book shows how recent developments in political philosophy can transform our understanding of the role of designers. Introducing the framework of contemporary post-foundational politics in a way that is accessible to designers, it asks: how, when, and under what circumstances can design practice generate political relations? How can architectural design become more 'political'?

Five central chapters, which can be read alone or in sequence, explore the answers to these questions. Powerfully pragmatic in approach, each presents one of the 'five ways to make architecture political', and each is illustrated by case studies from a range of contemporary situations around the world. We see how politics happens in architectural practice, learn how different design technologies have political effects, and follow how architects reach different publics, trigger reactions and affect different communities worldwide.

Combining an accessible introduction to contemporary political concepts with a practical approach for a more political kind of practice, this book will stimulate debate among students and theorists alike, and inspire action in established and start-up practices.

“How is architecture political? What is the agency of buildings? Because of contemporary social, political and environmental challenges, these questions have become crucial. Using Actor-Network Theory in an innovative way, Albena Yaneva disrupts received answers by giving priority to what buildings really do, instead of focusing on what they are supposed to mean to their designers, owners or users.” – Antoine Picon, Director of Research at Harvard Graduate School of Design, USA

“Albena Yaneva's wonderful book asks us, above all, to take the study of architecture's politics slowly. Rather than jump to easy and ready-made political conclusions, she shows us both how it is possible and why it is necessary to take time to describe the politics of architecture in process, weaving theory and fieldwork together into a compelling synthesis. Five Ways to Make Architecture Political is a vital intervention, for students, practitioners and theorists alike.” – Andrew Barry, Head of the Department of Geography at University College London, UK
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBloomsbury Publishing PLC
Number of pages200
ISBN (Electronic)9781474252362, 9781474252379
ISBN (Print)9781350089716, 9781474252355
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2017


  • architecture
  • architectural ethnography
  • Actor-Network-Theory
  • design practice
  • politics
  • public


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