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Urban controversies and the making of the


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DOI: 10.1017/S1359135512000267

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Urban controversies and the making of the social

Albena Yaneva and Liam Heaphy

Architectural Research Quarterly / Volume 16 / Issue 01 / March 2012, pp 29 - 36


DOI: 10.1017/S1359135512000267, Published online: 20 July 2012

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theory
Urban controversies open traditional social explanations of
architecture up to question. The London Olympic Stadium is used as
a case study in exploring digital methods for controversy mapping.

Urban controversies and


the making of the social
Albena Yaneva and Liam Heaphy

On the one hand, architectural knowledge advances controversy surrounding the London Olympic
very rapidly, with new types of materials and Stadium for the 2012 Games allows us to illustrate the
technological innovations entering the field and method and present some new ways of visualising the
1
multiplying architectural invention. On the other dynamics of controversies with architectural tools.
hand, urban experts, architects and engineers often
debate publicly uncertain urban knowledge and Designing the London Olympic Stadium
technologies, risky plans and daring designs, In the East End of London in 2009, a small army of
polarising opinion – as witnessed on numerous contracted workers is raising the new 80,000 capacity
blogs, citizen forums and architecture websites. This Olympic Stadium, slowly but surely, with the
radical transformation in building technologies, in steadfast rhythm of honeybees. The computer-
the reliance upon experts and in the expansion of modelled design and its artists’ impressions,
architectural networks could have remained unveiled to the public in November 2007, are being
practically invisible were it not for the presence of replicated in solid materials and the marketing of
another phenomenon: the digitalisation of the 2012 Summer Olympics is beginning to capture
architecture and the availability of enormous the national consciousness. The community of East
Internet databases. The digital technologies at our London, divided and united many times by the
command provide us with abundant resources to different scenarios for development of the area and
follow architectural controversies. regeneration prognoses, is now waiting impatiently
How can we better make use of these digital for the new stadium to emerge and to change their
technologies and the huge amounts of available web lives. Guided visits for the general public are under
resources to track controversies and their dynamics? way and people are asked to take a seat in the
How can we take more advantage of the newest executive box and imagine how grand the arena
developments in architectural computation to below will appear from this select location on the
improve the analytical and visual potential of day of the opening ceremony. We pause for a
controversy mapping? How can controversy mapping moment and listen to the voices of the actors we see
enable us to follow and better understand urban on the construction site, to follow how they agree
dynamics and design concepts rather than quickly and disagree, argue and anticipate, project and await
explaining them with social factors? In this paper we the new design.
will discuss the potential of the Mapping Going back in time to revisit the bidding process,
Controversies method in architecture. This method one can find out that the actors who gathered
was initially developed by the French sociologist around the bid and voiced agreement and
Bruno Latour and applied across a variety of disagreement shared a different battlefield to those
disciplines. Drawing on a rich tradition of semiotics who, some six years later, gather on the construction
and literary theory, the method offers new site and anticipate the future of the stadium’s
opportunities for enquiry in social sciences based on design. As early as 2003, Keith Mills, then chief
Actor-Network Theory, which consists in following, executive of the London 2012 Campaign, and Tony
documenting and mapping ongoing controversies. Winterbottom, then director of regeneration and
Taken recently to the field of architecture, this development for the London Development Agency,
method allows us to witness, analyse and map the expressed how the London bid would be contingent
variety of elements of which a building is constituted on the ability to provide a lasting cultural and
2
together with the vast range of factors that impinge sporting legacy to the city. A preliminary design, or
on design. By encapsulating the dynamics of a artist’s impression, was unveiled on 7 November 2004
3
controversy and opening it more to informed in the UK’s The Independent newspaper. On 12
scrutiny, this approach could permit a more efficient November 2004, this design was attributed jointly to
decision-making process. The mapping of the hok Sport and Foreign Office Architects, with

theory   arq . vol 16 . no 1 . 2012 29

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30 arq . vol 16 . no 1 . 2012    theory

Alejandro Zaera-Polo referring to the muscle-like chief executive of the oda, David Higgins argued:
4
design enclosing the stadium interior. This The Olympics is a vast stage show and it needs to be
preliminary design was used extensively during the thought of like that. It’s about the temporary structures,
London bidding campaign, where the city competed what they’ll look like and their colour and how they’re
against contenders such as Paris, New York, Madrid branded. There’s also the sculpture, temporary bridges
10
and Moscow. A final design had yet to be formulated and landscaping. That’s what we’ve got to get right.
and it was thought pertinent to await the decision of In this sense, Peter Cook’s involvement in iconic
the International Olympic Committee (ioc) before studies like the famous Instant City made him ideal for
moving forward with a complete design. The London the role. As critic Amanda Baillieu noted, Cook might
bidding team, with the support and efforts of the ‘find his Archigram experience useful as he searches
then prime minister, Tony Blair, made legacy and for a solution to the stadium brief which requires a
11
community redevelopment an explicit part of their facility to hold 80,000 people’. The oda also
campaign, and were therefore bound to these appointed Tate Gallery director Nicholas Serota to its
commitments upon winning the 2012 Games. The advisory board, hoping now to have allayed the
Report of the IOC Evaluation Commission for the Games of concerns expressed by the architecture community
the XXX Olympiad in 2012 reported that: in relation to the bidding process and design input.
London has proposed Games based on providing A team was now assembled to produce the ‘final’
world-class facilities and services for the athletes, and a design for the stadium, comprising hok Sport advised
legacy for sport and the community through new and by Peter Cook, with a mandate for retaining an
enhanced facilities and a greater emphasis on sport and athletics capacity for London. Yet in the intervening
5
physical activity. period between the design team formation and the
Following London’s success in the bid in July 2005, unveiling there were reports of continued
responsibilities were divided between newly created controversy over the so-called legacy options for the
and pre-existing bodies, with the protagonists being: stadium. The 80,000-capacity venue is designed such
the London Organising Committee of the Olympic that 55,000 seats and the upper crown can be
and Paralympic Games (locog), responsible for removed and the 25,000 stadium then retained as a
preparing and staging the Games; the Olympic smaller athletics venue. Government ministers and
Delivery Authority (oda), responsible for venues and the oda sought a permanent ownership of the
infrastructure; the Mayor of London, responsible stadium, with local soccer and rugby clubs listed as
particularly for ensuring that Londoners benefit possibilities. Others, most notably Sebastian Coe
from the Games; the Westminster Government, (from locog) and Lamine Diack, president of the
represented by the Minister of the Olympics, Tessa International Association of Athletics Federations
Jowell. The oda, responsible for the design and (iaaf), were adamant about retaining an athletics
construction of the Olympic Stadium, sought a team track. London’s bid to hold the 2018 fifa World Cup
6
to determine the definitive design. On 13 October has changed the dynamics of the debate as has the
2006, contributors to Building Design magazine creation of the Olympic Park Legacy Company (oplc),
considered hok Sport (now renamed Populous) clear with Margaret Ford at the helm as chairwoman.
favourites in the bidding, attributed both to their Baroness Ford, a new player on the scene, and Boris
7
excellent reputation and to a lack of competing bids. Johnson, the Mayor of London are among several
foa did not enter an independent bid for the voices who want to ensure the possibility that the
stadium, nor did many other leading architects, a stadium could remain a World Cup football venue.
fact partly attributed to a long-suffering but Since the beginning, this building has been expected
ultimately completed Wembley Stadium, designed to have a ‘community-oriented’ look, such that the
by Foster + Partners and hok Sport Architecture, and components removed from the stadium after the
also the most expensive stadium in modern history. Games will be useful buildings in their own right.
The public tender notice had envisioned some six ‘People will enjoy the components […] They will be
competing bids, according to The Independent, but this put to use in the area, for example in schools’, stated
8 12
competitive format never materialised. As a result Cook. However, concerns about so-called legacy
hok Sport became the de facto winner of the bid. design continue to be raised even as its construction
Little information about it appeared in the press draws close to completion.
until a rift appeared between the riba and the oda An official press conference for the unveiling of the
following the 2006 riba conference in Venice. Olympic Stadium design was held on 7 November
A controversy broke out that year. The 2007, prompting a flurry of activity on the web as
architectural community, as represented by riba, journalists quickly wrote up articles and people
criticised the lack of expertise and importance of traded impressions over blogs. Architectural
design and architecture in the oda’s decision-making journals, and newspapers such as The Guardian with
processes. These criticisms were spearheaded by appointed design critics, mobilised to form opinions
Richard Rogers, who maligned the ‘design and build’ about the design. The response was mixed but the
strategy employed as opposed to a ‘design-led’ clear majority of the critical reactions from the
9
building process. In response to this, the oda British architectural community were negative. Few
resolved to increase the design input into the were unanimous in their praise, though some
Olympics through a number of new appointments – praised the lack of ostentation and focus on
including that of designer Peter Cook, famous for his practicality. The controversy accelerated.
conceptual work with Archigram in the 1960s. The The legacy of the stadium building remains highly

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theory   arq . vol 16 . no 1 . 2012 31

debated. It is largely assumed that it will continue its architecture. Yet, embracing this understanding
international role, hosting athletics tournaments leads to the danger of double reification: reification
and being promoted for future football and rugby of architecture and its various material and
world cups. The global economic downturn from technological dimensions, and reification of society.
2008 meant that cost has become a big factor. Tackling the stadium controversy in this fashion
Concerns are voiced about the post-Games usage of would ignore the specificity of the various
the Olympic Village with its expensive facilities. With architectural issues involved in the debate. In spite of
the election of Boris Johnson as the new mayor in the fact that the project has its own strengths and
2008, there was an increased impetus on behalf of logic, it will be assumed that it simply reflects the
the Greater London Authority and Westminster to challenges of contemporary urban politics and that
ensure that the future of local communities and its shape will be commonly associated with the social
London cultural life are increasingly brought into context and the cultural and political climates of our
the centre of the debate. time. In spite of the fact that there are so many actors
The Stadium was completed in 2011. Yet, the enrolled in the controversy, the design will perhaps
controversy over its legacy is more alive than ever. be said to pertain to the individual approach of Peter
The football club West Ham originally won the battle Cook or to Populous, whose creative solutions will be
for the Olympic Legacy Park by offering a more praised or criticised for decades. Yet, the other voices
compelling legacy case – to retain the athletics track. will be forgotten.
Their proposal is considered to be better than rival Inspired by the pragmatist writers, the new wave of
Tottenham Hotspur’s bid which offered ‘an iconic material culture studies pioneered a consideration
anchor centrepiece’ where the Olympic Stadium of the diversity of the material world (including
would be used solely for football and the athletic architecture and design) without reducing it to
15
track would be demolished. The legacy controversy models of the social world. Yet, this tradition, as
continues to unfold as we write. noted by the anthropologist Victor Buchli,
paradoxically avoided tackling the physicality and
16
Explaining the stadium design multiple materiality of the objective world. In our
Most interpretations of the stadium will be made pragmatist attempt to avoid reducing the stadium
after the building is completed. Journalists will be design to either its material and technological
impatient to break the story; architectural critics will dimensions or to its social symbolic form (a divide
praise the building passionately and will evaluate still so often reproduced in architectural studies), we
their ways of experiencing the building; the follow the transformations of design concepts and
international sports organisations will be thrilled by the meanderings of construction to witness a process
the new venue; and sports fans will be eager to visit where both the architectural and the social are fluid
the site and witness the event. Stepping aside from and are mutually defining.
the design process and leaving design experience
apart will not lead us to understand how the Controversy mapping
building will take shape and what the reactions of A building of such cultural importance will
the entire design world will be. However, if we follow inevitably provoke multiple reactions once it is built
the design controversy, now, as it slowly unfolds in and will draw much criticism from the architectural
time, we are able to interpret the building taking community and the press, as well as from politicians,
shape out there in East London. We will see it as inhabitants and visitors to the city. Many
being connected to both the conditions of its making architectural blogs will discuss the final design along
and the design experience of architects, builders, with the so-called legacy scenarios, while journalists
Olympic authorities, the city council, the will recollect the impressions of the first visitors to
communities of East London, the media and the venue. Numerous groups will feel concerned by
politicians. We will unravel the entire ecology of its design and will express reactions of affectedness.
design in the making as being significant for However, it is not necessary to wait until the 2012
undesigning this building. Games to hear the critical reactions.
What is it about the London Olympic Stadium that In our approach, we follow the controversy on the
provoked so many good and bad reactions during the move. The term controversy points to the series of
bid, design and construction? What kinds of actors uncertainties that the stadium design and
respond to the design proposals and claim to speak construction undergo. It refers to a situation of
on its behalf? One way to answer these questions is to disagreement among different actors involved in the
deduce the building’s meaning from stylistic making of the stadium. It is also a synonym of
patterns or any kind of causalities. In the sense of the ‘architecture in the making’. Our knowledge of the
mainstream social sciences, to explain a building like London Olympic Stadium controversy is based on its
the London stadium means to produce a ‘social manifestation in the media and through publicly
explanation’ of its design. It was a widespread available documents on the websites of official
preconception of architectural theory in the 1970s organisations. We follow and enlist the whole range
and ’80s that architecture and society are related in a of actors concerned by the stadium design, whether
13
‘mirror-fashion’ and this view is still shared by most they be architects, clients, communities, costs,
14
contemporary critical authors. The ‘social’ is seen design precedents or existing buildings, area
as a separate domain of reality that can be used as a regeneration prospects or legacy scenarios, diagrams
specific type of causality to account for aspects of or sketches, beams or structural models, or indeed

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32 arq . vol 16 . no 1 . 2012    theory

anything else. With the generic term of ‘actors’ we by the very same design community that complained
designate all beings enrolled in the controversy, about the place of design in the Olympics.
human and nonhuman. We identify the relevant We also visualise the networks. There is no such
online sources and map the actors’ relationships thing as an isolated actor. Actors are always interfaces
through various actorial diagrams [1]. To determine among different social collectives, as they are both
the actors, we read the online sources and ask composed of, and components of, networks. We also
ourselves if the presence or absence of an actor endeavour to reproduce a more nuanced
makes any difference. For instance, the Beijing understanding of the overall dynamics of the
stadium appears to be an actor along with Boris controversy through visualisations of the actors,
Johnson, Populous and Peter Cook. This might look showing with whom they are associated, and
surprising to some. Yet the Beijing stadium design outlining how their mediating agency transforms
does make a difference in the London Olympics story, the debate. Actors are such because they inter-act,
and this is a difference perceived by many other shaping relations and being shaped by relations.
actors. Everyone and everything can be an actor as They gain their identity in the disputes.
long as it makes a difference. No one will be surprised Whatever the reactions of the actors, good and bad,
to see that the architect is never on his or her own in slowing down or speeding up, they had a positive
the design and construction process. Many other impact because they make us rethink the importance
individual actors join in: Sebastian Coe, Chairman of of stadiums for a big metropolis like London, they
locog, Tessa Jowell, Minister for the Olympics, Ken make us go back to the other design precedents and
Livingstone, former Mayor of London, Jacques Rogge, revisit similar controversies surrounding stadium
president of the ioc, Rod Sheard, architect with design. Evaluating the controversy, the actors
Populous, John Armitt, chairman of oda, David enrolled in it began opening the design ‘black boxes’
Higgins, chief executive of oda, Baroness Margaret of other stadiums, such as the Beijing National
Ford, chairwoman of the oplc. There are also many Stadium with its innovative steel structure design
institutions mobilised in the controversy which and its thoughtful integration into the layout of the
show themselves as full-blown actors: locog, oda, Olympic Park and its host city. The comparison with
the International Olympic Committee (ioc), the riba Beijing is recurrent. It is discussed primarily because
and the design community, West Ham United, and of its aesthetics; yet financial and material limiting
the Commission for Architecture and the Built factors ensured that a similar scale of construction
Environment (cabe). Then there are a number of was deemed unfeasible for the London Olympics as
nonhuman actors: the Athens 2004 Olympics, the costs of raw materials and labour are greatly
Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games, Recession, higher in Britain. Just as the 2008 Beijing Olympic
Millennium Dome, Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Games were to have a large bearing on how China is
17
Wembley Stadium, among others. perceived and treated by other nation states and
We map the actors’ main statements and trace the international organisations, it is now anticipated
thick mesh of relations among the statements that the London Games will be of intrinsic national
circulating in a dispute. For instance, among the importance for the UK, providing an opportunity for
most frequent criticisms of the final stadium design great displays of national socio-political and cultural
is that it resembles a great ‘circus tent’. The analogy vitality. While hosted in a decidedly modern and
is interesting as it brings us to the discussion of wealthy city, the London Olympics will necessarily
legacy, which is central to the controversy debate. differ from the Beijing Olympics in scale. The Beijing
This is a statement that circulates across the actors Games were of epic proportions and exceeded in
enrolled. Peter Cook, in an interview with terms of spectacle and mass organisation many, if not
Architectural Record, draws the comparison directly, all, previous Games. The ‘Bird’s Nest’, designed by
stating that ‘[i]f it’s a temporary condition, then you Herzog & de Meuron, has won several prizes,
can take advantage of that in the same way as when including the Lubetkin Prize from the riba in July
the circus comes to town. In a way you could say 2009. It has been lavished with praise for its
18
Instant City is, intellectually, the model’. In an architectural virtuosity, accomplishments in
ironic twist, the appointment of a noted designer engineering, and for its thoughtful concept
seems to be bound up with the criticism later given development. The London Olympic Stadium has been

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theory   arq . vol 16 . no 1 . 2012 33

designed and planned in the shadow of the Beijing design is related. For example, how will the new
Olympics and, to some extent, its critical design affect the residents of the villages of Old Ford,
appreciation is slowly morphing from one of Stratford Waterfront, and Pudding Mill? Will the
bemoaned dismissal for a lack of audacity to one of concerns against its design change any of the design
reserved praise for its straightforward commonsense plans? Which legacy scenario will be accepted and
and legacy planning. Thus, as suggested above, the how will this affect the post-Games life of the
‘Bird’s Nest’ stadium is one among many actors community? Thus, as we collect data on the
altering the perception of the emerging London controversy and try to analyse and visualise it, we
Stadium, along with other precedents such as: the actively engage in the pragmatist enquiry of mapping
19
Athens 2004 Olympics analysed as an example of a the controversy. When tracing the actors’ trajectories
legacy failure, the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth and drawing the diagrams of relations and the
Games as an example of successful legacy, the timeline, we do not simply engage in a reflective
Millennium Dome as an instance of how not to plan process of solving design problems, in a dialogue
legacy, and Wembley Stadium as an example of poor with materials and shapes, but rather we interact
economic management. As soon as a design with a much vaster and heterogeneous assembly of
20
precedent is discussed, the ‘black box’ of its design is actors. When dealing with them, we do not simply
temporarily opened and dismantled into smaller learn what design is; rather we learn about what
attributes. This makes us realise how many actors are design does: what kind of effects it can trigger, how it
involved in the making and the maintenance of a can affect the observer, divide communities and
stadium today; it tests the attachment to stadium provoke disagreements. We delve into the many
buildings as well as the cohesion of the communities consequences of design practice and gain an
around them; as a result of the London Olympics awareness of its various implications. So, if we were
controversy the stadium gained new allies and critics. about to design a new stadium, especially after the
What type of enquiry is this? We are in the midst of controversial fame of the Beijing National Stadium,
the controversy, we plunge into the press clippings would we stay in the studio, staring at a model and
and the image galleries on the web to try to unravel ‘engaging in a dialogue with materials and shapes’,
all the traces this controversy has left on the web: in trying to solve the paradoxes of design? No, we would
archival materials; government papers; press rather plunge into the design world outside the
clippings covering the community protests, images studio and face its complex ontology.
and videos. We are immersed in complex data sets
that allow us to reflect not only on the design of the Visualising controversies
London stadium but also on all those issues to which Following the controversies, and the many detours in
the architects’ initial design plan, we cannot talk any
longer about one static Modernist object, a
construction, but rather about an object plus its
anticipated uses after the Games, presented as legacy
scenarios plus a variety of other actors mobilised by
those scenarios. That is how the stadium building
becomes a multiple object, an assembly of contested
issues: community development, sustainability,
2 legacy and cost. The stadium that looked like a

1 Typology of actors on
case study website

2 Steps of controversy
analysis

3 Actor diagram

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34 arq . vol 16 . no 1 . 2012    theory

4 Timeline of the
controversy

5 Concern-oriented
mapping

6 Dynamic mapping of
the London Olympics
Stadium Design
Controversy

simple technical or aesthetic object in foa’s images


in 2004 and in hok Sport’s images and plans in 2007,
became socio-technical, socio-aesthetic and socio-
political through the controversy. From being
sketched once and forgotten, it became potentially
alterable; from taken for granted, it became
contested; from immediate, mediated; from rapid,
21
slow; from a static object, a ‘bird in flight’. Not an
autonomous, emancipated, coherent object whose
construction site is growing ‘out there’ in East
London but a complex ecology. Every design move,
every new disagreement is a trail that makes us
reconsider what a building is, and how many
elements it is made from.
5
Visualising the making of the stadium as a
complex ecology is a challenging task indeed. After
the data was collected and the main maps produced, and regrouping of heterogeneous actors gravitating
we have sought various encoding mechanisms by around the concerns, their attraction or shrinking as
which visual methods could help inform the reader time unfolds, and the different speeds of swarm
who will not be familiar with the entire body of formation according to the changed magnitude of
media reports [2]. the concerns in the media debate. Such a dynamic
We have created actors’ diagrams [3] and simulation allows the exploration of the relative
interactive chronologies that display primary events importance/weight of different concerns over the
based on media representation and which inform course of a design controversy.
about the principal actors most connected with a A more sophisticated and much more complex
particular event [4]. The diagrams permit an overall visualisation was produced with the collaboration of
visual depiction of chronological events and grasp Aedas R&D in London [6]. Its great advantage is that it
the relationships of the heterogeneous actors shows the varying densities of actor groupings
involved in the controversy in a more intuitive and around particular concerns, and the changing
22
user-friendly way. intensities and speeds of the controversy. It shows a
At the next stage of the mapping enquiry, we used ‘matters of concern’-oriented controversy mapping,
parametric modelling to present the dynamics of the i.e. a mapping with actors clustering according to
controversy in a fertile and engaging manner while particular concerns. The simulation features a user-
allowing website users to form their own conclusions friendly interface that enables us to push-and-pull
based on a general grasp of the events. some of the actors so as to render their connections
Predominantly used by architects to visualise the more visible, highlighting some significant
dynamic relations of all technical parameters that connections among actors, which might otherwise
would generate a new design shape, we used not be visible. There is considerable potential for
parametric modelling for the first time to visualise further exploration of controversy visualisations in
how an assembly of heterogeneous actors, their concrete form by sharing expertise in architectural
locations in time and space, and conflicting concerns computation, digital media, and controversies
work in tandem to shape the stadium debate. The studies in the exploration of data-rich case studies.
animation [5] shows how a controversy unfolds as This experiment with parametric modelling (as
driven by matters of concern (especially the concerns shown in figure 5) and post-parametric
identified here: cost, legacy, community, design) and computational tools (as shown in figure 6) also shows
provides a world-view of all the actors in relation to the potential of architectural tools to map human
media attention, depicting when they entered and and nonhuman relationships, to follow multi-
exited the controversy. The animation allows us to actorial dynamics and time-track the trajectory of
track the actors’ involvement in the design debate in issues. Simulations of the controversy dynamics
a dynamic way and to identify the nature of their illustrate that the design of a building is more
involvement. One can witness the flexible grouping conceivable as a contested assembly of concerns of

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23
legacy, community and cost, i.e. as a ‘thing’. As we of actors and resources mobilised and networked
follow the evolution of the controversy through our around the Olympic Stadium design and
simulation, we see that these concerns emerge more construction, the more social design became. This
strongly after 2007 when the final design is shared particular capacity of a building to associate both
with a larger array of actors. The controversy space human and nonhuman actors makes it an important
25
gravitates towards so-called legacy as different long- actor. The social can be found here, in the process of
term scenarios are debated and a greater emphasis mobilisation and enrolment of actors, rather than
on communities becomes apparent. September 2009 outside the field of design. The heterogeneous
then marks the onset of the bidding for the stadium, connections of all actors who disagree and join the
as West Ham and Tottenham football clubs dominate controversy is precisely what gives strength to the
the visualisation, while the oplc weighs these and social at the end. By reshaping their connections,
other contenders during the process. Newham architects and stadium precedents, communities
Council rise in the list of actors as they underwrite and sketches, plans and builders, legacy and new
West Ham’s bid, while commercial giant aeg follow technologies all redefine the design world. That is, a
closely behind in their mission to make Tottenham’s unique process of traversing the revered boundary
bid successful, together with the resultant removal that is said to separate ‘architecture’ from ‘society’,
of the athletics legacy. ‘meaning’ from ‘materiality’, ‘technology’ from
Mapping a design controversy is not about telling a ‘symbols’. That is, a process where all the
story with a happy ending, it is about tracing a redistributions are possible.
tentative trajectory and accounting for the whole Exploring the Olympic Controversy taught us
process of design transformations. Following how that, to understand the entire magnitude of the
controversies unfold, we witness that design is design-related transformations in London, common
accountable. We cannot continue to argue any longer social science methods remain insufficient. The
that buildings and architectural institutions are due shortest route to a clear-cut analysis of this ongoing
to the diffracted presence of society above the built controversy will be to express it in familiar
24
environment. Thus, another way of approaching language: to tackle the social issues and
architecture will be to state that there are no ‘social redevelopment plans for the Lea Valley in East
dimensions or factors’ of any sort explaining the London, the urban regeneration and city
26
success or failure of architectural projects. Buildings re-branding strategies, the role of the Olympics for
27
are not simply projections of the social. urban governance and its impact on city politics,
However, buildings could become social as or to measure the tangible and intangible impacts
28
witnessed in the design of the London Olympic from hosting the Olympics. Alternatively, mapping
Stadium, because they possess an immense capacity the controversy offered access to the complexity of
of connecting heterogeneous actors. Analysing the all these lines of enquiry and prevented us from
controversy, we observe that the larger the number embracing them in isolation.

   Urban controversies and the making of the social   Yaneva & Heaphy

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36 arq . vol 16 . no 1 . 2012    theory

Notes Environment (London: Routledge & An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory


1. The paper is based on the results of Kegan Paul, 1980). (Oxford/New York: Oxford University
the EU-funded project MACOSPOL: 14. Jane Rendell, Jonathan Hill, Murray Press, 2005).
http://www.macospol.org. The UK Fraser and Mark Dorrian (eds), Critical 25. This has been shown previously in
part of the project is documented on Architecture (London: Routledge, 2007). the case of the Whitney Museum
http://www.mapping 15. Daniel Miller (ed.), Material Cultures: controversies, see Albena Yaneva,
controversies.co.uk and http://www. Why Some Things Matter (London/New The Making of a Building: A Pragmatist
mappingcontroversies.net/Home/ York: Routledge, 1998). Approach to Architecture (Oxford:
MacospolManchester. 16. Victor Buchli, ‘Immateriality and Peter Lang, 2009).
2. Terry Kirby, ‘New Stadium at Heart of Things’. Lecture delivered at the 26. John R. Gold and Margaret M. Gold,
London’s Olympic Bid’, The Manchester Architecture Research ‘Olympic Cities: Regeneration, City
Independent (12 November 2003) Centre, University of Manchester, Rebranding and Changing Urban
<http://www.independent.co.uk/ 7 June 2007. Agendas’, Geography Compass, 2:1,
news/uk/this-britain/new-stadium-at- 17. For a comprehensive analysis of the January 2008, pp. 300–18.
heart-of-londons-olympic-bid-735440. actors and their relationships in this 27. Peter Newman, ‘“Back the Bid”: The
html> [accessed 6 April 2009]. controversy, see http://www. 2012 Summer Olympics and the
3. Alan Hubbard, ‘Olympics: London’s mappingcontroversies.co.uk/london. Governance of London’, Journal of
80,000-Seater Arena to Win Games’, The dynamic maps are based on 693 Urban Affairs, 29:3, August 2007,
The Independent (7 November 2004) articles sourced from UK pp. 255–67.
<http://www.independent.co.uk/ newspapers, namely Evening Standard 28. Giles Atkinson, Susana Mourato,
sport/general/olympics-londons- (230), Telegraph (18), Guardian/Observer Stefan Szymanski and Ece
80000seater-arena-to-win-games- (236), Independent (54), Telegraph (52), Ozdemiroglu, ‘Are we Willing to Pay
532291.html> [accessed 6 April 2009]. The Times (81). Enough to “Back the Bid”?: Valuing
4. ‘London Flexes its Muscles’, Building 18. Bryant Rousseau, ‘The ArchRecord the Intangible Impacts of London’s
Design, no. 1650 (12 November 2004), Interview: Sir Peter Cook’, Bid to Host the 2012 Summer
p. 2. Architectural Record, 2007 <http:// Olympic Games’, Urban Studies, 45:2,
5. International Olympic Committee, archrecord.construction.com/ February 2008,
Report of the IOC Evaluation Commission features/interviews/0711petercook/07 pp. 419–44.
for the Games of the XXX Olympiad in 11Petercook-1.asp> [accessed 22 April
2012 (6 June 2005), p. 64, <http:// 2009]. Illustration credits
multimedia.olympic.org/pdf/en_ 19. The mapping controversies method arq gratefully acknowledges:
report_952.pdf> [accessed 23 March implies a teaching philosophy as Aedas|R&D, Albena Yaneva and Liam
2010]. well. Only recently was it introduced Heaphy, 6
6. Richard Waite, ‘2012 Olympic in English-speaking universities with Nick Dunn and Liam Heaphy, 4
Stadium Contract up for Grabs’, The Manchester being a pioneer in the Ambrose Gillick, 3
Architects’ Journal, 25 July 2006, field of Architecture studies. For Liam Heaphy, 1, 2
<http://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/ more information on the teaching Danny Richards, 5
news/dailynews/2006/ 07/2012_ platform, see http://medialab.
olympic_stadium_contract_up_for_ sciences-po.fr/controversies/. Biographies
grabs.html> [accessed 28 October 20. I refer here to the epistemology of Albena Yaneva is a Senior Lecturer at
2008]. studio-based design described by the University of Manchester. She is
7. ‘HOK Team is Favourite for Olympic Donald Schön in The Reflective the author of the books: The Making of a
Stadium’, Building Design, 1742 (13 Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Building: A Pragmatist Approach to
October 2006), p. 3. Action (New York: Basic Books, 1983). Architecture (Peter Lang, 2009) and Made
8. Matthew Beard, ‘McAlpine Strikes 21. Bruno Latour and Albena Yaneva, by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture:
Olympic Gold with Stadium Deal’, The ‘Give me a Gun and I will Make An Ethnography of Design, Rotterdam
Independent, 14 October 2006 <http:// Buildings Move: An ANT’s View of (010 Publishers, 2009); guest editor of
www.independent.co.uk/news/ Architecture’, Explorations in Science Studies (2008) and City, Culture &
business/news/mcalpine-strikes- Architecture: Teaching, Design, Research, Society (2011).
olympic-gold-with-stadium-deal- R. Geiser (ed.) (Basel: Birkhäuser,
420075.html> [accessed 6 April 2009]. 2008), pp. 80–89. Liam Heaphy is a Ph.D. student at the
9. Ed Dorrell, ‘Rogers Voices Olympic 22. Beyond this, there are other, even University of Manchester. His recent
Fears’, The Architects’ Journal, 9 more semantic web-crawling tools research has been focused on scientific
November 2006, p. 11. appearing online, which can connect epistemologies and the linkages between
10. Amanda Baillieu, ‘Design is at the with data sources not explicitly science and society, particularly with
Heart of What We are Doing Here’, chosen here. Employing complex regard to climate science. As part of the
Building Design, 1759, 12 December linguistic and referential algorithms, Manchester Architecture Research
2006, p. 1. they dig out articles, reports and Centre, he has worked on the Mapping
1. Baillieu, Ibid., p. 1. official websites connected with Controversies on Science for Politics
12. Jack Malvern, Fran Yeoman and particular topics by noting (macospol) project.
Philip Webster, ‘Sixties Designer to interconnectivity between websites,
Bring Taste of Avant Garde to Olympic terminology and keywords. Authors’ addresses
Stadium’, The Times (UK), (2 December 23. On the notion of ‘thing’ as a Dr Albena Yaneva
2006) <http://www.timesonline.co. gathering of many conflicting Liam Heaphy
uk/tol/news/uk/article657603.ece> demands, or as an issue or dispute, Manchester Architecture
[accessed 24 March 2010]. contrasted with ‘object’ (Gegenstand): Research Centre (MARC)
13. Pierre Bourdieu, ‘The Berber House’, what is out there, undisputed, The University of Manchester
in Rules and Meanings: The Anthropology factual, see Bruno Latour and Peter Humanities Bridgeford Street
of Everyday Knowledge, Mary Douglas Weibel (eds), Iconoclash, Beyond the Oxford Road
(ed.) (Harmondsworth: Penguin Image Wars in Religion, Science and Art Manchester, m13 9pl
Books, 1971), pp. 98–110); Anthony (Karlsruhe: ZKM/Cambridge, MA: MIT uk
King (ed.), Buildings and Society: Essays Press, 2002). albena.yaneva@manchester.ac.uk
on the Social Development of the Built 24. Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social: liam.heaphy@postgrad.manchester.ac.uk

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