Lecture | Selena Savić – Architecturality

Architecturality : a Quality of Built Structures and Wireless Communication Infrastructures


CAAD talk #43
Tuesday 5. April, 2016 17:00 HPZ F ETH




Architecturality is a concept that emerged from my research into the importance of infrastructures, in particular, that of wireless communication, when experiencing and interacting with our surroundings. It affords a comprehensive perspective towards phenomena that occur in the environment and have a structural effect on the way organisations or systems operate. Architecturality is not concerned with how a structure or a system is but what it does. It is used to explain the effects of that system on its immediate surrounding, to register the interactions that are taking place.

This discussion on spatial effects of wireless connectivity is based on the argument that architecturality of wireless communication infrastructure results from the fact that agency of wireless signals, like that of architecture, can be observed and qualified. Agency is not the most forward property of architecture – it is a contested quality which requires complicated argumentation. Nevertheless, I will demonstrate how it is precisely here that we should build foundations of a model for evaluating the effects of wireless communication on the experience of space.

Architecturality refers to a property common to all architecture but exceeding the limits of built artefacts and urban spaces. It is defined through the notions of performativity (Barad, 2003) and form-giving action (Easterling, 2012) as a potential for affecting the experience of space in a meaningful way. This conceptual framework enables us to compare physical architectures with information technology through an external lens – their effects on experience. I will demonstrate some possibilities for a meaningful experience of wireless communication signals, through my own work and the work of others. In these experiments, the materiality of connectivity – a phenomenon beyond mere functioning connection – takes the form given to wirelessness (Mackenzie, 2010) through action.


Barad, K. (2003). Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter. Signs, 28(3), pp. 801–831.
Easterling, K. (2012). The action is the form. Victor Hugo’s TED talk (1 edition). Strelka Press.


// Selena Savić (Belgrade, RS, 1980) is an architect, designer and researcher, interested in the design of infrastructures, their spatial and cultural implications. Selena received her PhD from EPFL, Lausanne and IST, Lisbon in 2015, with generous support from an FCT grant. Prior to joining the SINLAB research group at EPFL, Selena got a Master degree at Networked Media department at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and an engineering degree from the Faculty of Architecture, University of Belgrade. Combined with the background in urban planning and research in cities, her profuse interests gave rise to a practice of interrogative design of objects and environments. Her work was exhibited at a number of festivals and exhibitions, as well as research symposia and scientific conferences. She regularly collaborates with designers, programmers, researchers, theatre directors and artists on hybrid practices which tend to render visible what is normally taken for granted.