Analyzing design and architecture under the Actor Network Theory lens

Every year, Anthology Design+Architecture Festival brings together thought leaders with the drive and influence from around the world.

  • February 13, 2019

  • Written by Roumel Itum

  • Photos courtesy of Anthology

Sociologists Bruno Latour, Michel Callon, and John Law posited that everything in the social and natural world exists in constantly shifting networks of relationships. Known as the Actor-Network Theory, this framework also includes objects and organizations and aims to show how relationships are formed and provides helpful tools to thoroughly understand the process. As the world is nothing but an everyday and constant interaction between people and things, where design stands at the center—the traditional tension brought about by this web of interrelations is responsible for new products and the consequent effects of design. The emergence of a new social and mental landscape also created a new set of dynamics for living—a life lived in constant pursuit of comfort, pleasure, and contentment.

While it is true that some design executions are intentional, and some may be accidental, nothing is left undesigned in architecture. Things and spaces may occupy points within the badly designed, properly designed spectrum. Both bad designs and good designs affect the intended users in a certain way. This effect can be considered as the of the networks formed by the interaction of many actors. We each come into contact with architecture and design every day of our lives. From the structures we take shelter in, to the places our livelihoods depend upon, architecture affects how we live and work, how we share space in our cities that influence the stories we tell ourselves about society, how the built environment directly impacts our way of life. By looking at architecture and design under the lens of the Actor Network Theory, we get to appreciate and become a catalyst for the production of architecture that responds to the challenges facing our society today—one that promotes the value of sustainability as a way of life.

This is exactly the kind of awareness that is being promoted by Anthology Architecture+Design Festival.

actor network

Anthology Festival is an annual three-day event that showcases architecture and design within the Philippines and the Southeast Asian region. The festival serves as a platform to bring together architects, urban planners, interior designers, developers, and government officials to increase awareness about the relevance of architecture and design in our urban societies. The event also provides up and coming talent with access to fresh ideas on design thinking, presenting the latest industry trends on designing for a fast-changing world, using digitalization and innovative technologies to create open-ended, flexible buildings.

Since its inception in 2016, the festival lectures, panel discussions and workshops have become an avenue for students and professionals alike to question, provoke, inspire, innovate and learn about all aspects of architecture. “Through Anthology Festival, we aim to bring global ideas to the local context, in the hope of building better, future-ready cities,” says Rebecca Plaza, the managing director of Plaza+Partners, Inc. Inspired by her vision to create socially relevant architecture, Plaza is also the director of the festival. “Architecture is the most public and socially dangerous art: we can switch off the television or close a book, but we cannot ignore our built environment. The buildings that we create will stand testament of our time,” she continues.

Unlike traditional conferences, event attendees can look forward to various talks, workshops, and live competitions across multiple stages throughout the weekend, functioning more like an exciting music festival within the historical walls of Intramuros. Issues to be discussed fall under architecture on a macro-scale, the art and philosophy of architecture and the practice and profession of design, given by industry experts, like Ole Schereen of Buro Ole Schereen, Roland Schnizer of Foster+Partners and Hans Sy, Jr. of SM. The discourse led by world-renowned thought-leaders, will look at some of the most critical challenges facing architecture today and examine how these can be applied in the Philippine context. Moreover, professionals who are looking to join the design force of some of the country’s top firms will have the chance to submit their CVs through this year’s Job Corner.

This year, moderators, panellists, and guest speakers are going to talk about “Impact Architecture,” by identifying the role of architects in harnessing creativity and imagination in the development of long-term, sustainable solutions to catalyze urban development, social inclusion, and cultural vibrancy. Happening from February 15 to 17, Anthology Architecture+Design Festival aims to translate discussion into programmed action, to help shape the future of the Philippines through architecture and design. B ender

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