The architecture of the hybrid lab: Spacing graphene research

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Building on and renewing a long line of STS research of lab materialities, this article sheds light on a type of architecture organized around the ‘heroic agency’ of a new nanomaterial, graphene. It examines how design responds to the dynamic and multi-applicational ambitions of contemporary science. An ethnographic study of the National Graphene Institute in Manchester allows us to see how the building’s design has epistemic and social effects, how different spatial arrangements facilitate the shaping of research habits and mediate various rhythms of lab work. Key features of this hybrid lab are: first, a shifting balance between public and private places, with a prevalence of collective activities; second, its capacity to reinforce epistemically and socially the conditions of visibility, by emphasizing the work of making research practice visible; third, its distinctive way to speed up research, often by slowing down the circulation of people and things. All these features make the hybrid lab a unique spatial articulation of a new cultural order of innovation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Studies of Science
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • graphene
  • laboratory design
  • nanoscience research
  • science architecture
  • scientific practice


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