Learning Design with Social Insects: The ANT, the SPIDER, and the WASP

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Ester Gisbert Alemany


I discuss the Architecture Design Studio Course held in 2014/15 and in 2016/17 around the topic of lifestyle migration in the changing coastal landscapes of the Mediterranean. Starting with my own experience as a student, influenced by STS concepts and the debates in the School of Architecture in Alicante, Spain, I show the limits of ANT’s (actor-network theory) extensive descriptions as a tools for teaching and learning design and, at the same time, the role they can have in stretching what architecture can be once it is connected to contemporary issues. These courses have allowed us to re-imagine, together, the many types of architects students can become. We have done it by enriching ANT with two other anthropological and philosophical concepts: anthropologist Tim Ingold’s SPIDER, whose ’Skilled Practice Involves Developmentally Embodied Responsiveness’, and places the architecture student, as a practitioner, in the center of a concrete material web that, as Spuyborek’s sympathetic WASP, is able to abstract the environment beyond the felt encounters between things and people as they shape each other.


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How to Cite
Gisbert Alemany, E. (2018). Learning Design with Social Insects: The ANT, the SPIDER, and the WASP. Diseña, (12), 256–283. https://doi.org/10.7764/disena.12.256-283
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Author Biography

Ester Gisbert Alemany, University of Alicante

Architect, University of Alicante. Master of Research in Social Anthropology, University of Aberdeen. Assistant Professor in the Department of Graphic Expression, Composition and Projects, University of Alicante. Her research deals with the forces and forms of urbanization related to tourism in the Mediterranean. She is a partner in the ARRSA architecture and urban planning studio. Some of her latest publications include ’An Architecture by Means of Anthropology - Beyond Learning the Tools of Social Science’ ([I2], vol. 4, N°1) and ’Vidas translocales y su acción distribuida en el territorio: casos prácticos de construcción de experiencias turísticas con emigrantes e inmigrantes en la Costa Blanca, Alicante, España’ (with E. Nieto, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, 2015).