Agency in Architecture: Reframing Criticality in Theory and Practice

  • Isabelle Doucet
  • Kenny Cupers


Whether critiquing the architect’s societal position and the role of the user, conceptualising the performative dimension of the architectural object, or considering the effects of theory for architecture at large, current debates in architecture intersect in the notion of agency. As fundamental as it is often taken for granted, this notion forms the keystone of this issue, inviting contributors to rethink architecture’s specificity, its performance, and its social and political relevance. Agency in architecture inevitably entails questioning the relation between theory and practice, and what it might mean to be critical – both inside and outside architecture – today. The main proposal is to rethink contemporary criticality in architecture, by explicating the notion of agency in three major directions: first, ‘the agency of what?’ or the question of multiplicity and relationality; second, ‘how does it work?’, a question referring to location, mode and vehicle; and third, ‘to what effect?’, bringing up the notion of intentionality.

Author Biographies

Isabelle Doucet

Isabelle Doucet is trained as an architect, and currently a PhD candidate at the Delft Technical University, Delft School of Design.

Kenny Cupers

Kenny Cupers is currently a PhD candidate at Harvard University and has an architecture degree from KULeuven, Belgium.

How to Cite
DOUCET, Isabelle; CUPERS, Kenny. Agency in Architecture: Reframing Criticality in Theory and Practice. FOOTPRINT, [S.l.], p. 1-6, jan. 2009. ISSN 1875-1490. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 24 mar. 2019. doi: