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Accepted Paper:

Buildings for care: an ethnographic de-scription of architectural elements   
Ariane d'Hoop (UCLouvain) Annelieke Driessen (University of Amsterdam)

Paper short abstract:

Rather than seeing a building as one entity, we explore how architectural elements and care workers together achieve the goal of making residents' 'staying in the place'. Herewith we hope to contribute to a view of how buildings and care practices relate beyond architectural determinism.

Paper long abstract:

When Ariane (first author) recounted stories to architects about how spatial elements co-produced occurrences in her fieldwork, the response was often "Oh, that's the influence of the building". Our STS background leads us to question this architectural determinism: after all, STS scholars have drawn attention to the continuous (re)making of objects in interactions between human and non-human actors. Looking at architecture in this manner implies a focus on interactions between humans and architectural elements, such as rooms, doors and specific spatial arrangements (Koolhaas et al., 2014), instead of buildings in their entirety.

Rather than seeing a building as one entity, we empirically open them up to analysis. Drawing on both authors' ethnographic researches, conducted in psychiatry and dementia care respectively, we explore how the goal of making residents' 'staying in the place' is achieved by care workers and architectural elements together in practice (e.g. closed, opened or equipped doors; cameras; circulation means such as corridors or stairs). We use the notion of 'script' (Akrich, 1992) to analyse practices of care-full adjustments of architectural elements. Herewith we hope to put forward a more nuanced view of how buildings and care practices relate to each other, that goes beyond architectural determinism.


Koolhaas, Rem, AMO, and Harvard Graduate School of Design. Elements. Marsilio. James Westcott, 2014.

Akrich, Madeleine. "The De-Scription of Technical Objects." In Shaping Technology / Building Society: Studies in Sociothecnical Change, Cambridge, Mass. ; London, MIT Press. Inside Technology. Beijker Wiebe E., Law John, 1992.

Panel T083
Doing theory by other means: how does architectural production challenge STS and ANT
  Session 1 Friday 2 September, 2016, -