The Bartlett School of Architecture


Anna Wild

Patient Drawers, film still © Anna Wild



The Way of All Built Flesh: Translations on a Workspace

First Supervisor

Second Supervisors


More than as merely transferring words and meanings from one language to another, Heidegger understood translation as über - setzen, ‘setting - over’ from one shore of thought to ‘an - other’. The ‘alchemy’ of translation (McSkeane 2014) reminds us that the act of translating between different languages, cultures and realms invariably creates gaps and fissures, allowing meanings to appear or disappear. Exploring this alchemical quality of translation, Anna’s research focuses on encounters with ‘an - other’ in the context of architecture; studying the reciprocal relationships between buildings and their inhabitants over time.

On one level, the relationship we have with our buildings can be understood in practical manners: buildings adjust to the needs of their inhabitants, but also shape their lives; as our body interacts with the spaces around us, these spaces and their objects gain a certain agency of their own (Bennett 2010). But apart from changes on a physical and practical level, the reciprocity of our relationship is predicated on how the things around us take on different meanings over time. Translation, with its sense of the ‘vacillating essence’ of things (Cassin 2016), can help to navigate the different levels on which these relationships develop, translating between the different realms we and our things inhabit.

Anna’s research identifies and engages with different practices of translation which have traced such reciprocal relationships, such as W. G. Sebald’s English/German novels and Friedrich Hölderlin’s translations from Greek into German. Setting out and learning from these practices, Anna enacts an embodied conversation with her own workspace, observing and studying their reciprocal relationship as part of the design research. By actively rebuilding the workspace and letting it enter different realms through interlingual and intermedial translation, she is allowing it to become an active participant in the research process.


Anna Wild received her Architecture BSc and MSc from ETH Zurich and completed a postgraduate certificate in Advanced Architectural Research at the Bartlett School of Architecture.

Being interested in multilingual design practice, she worked both as architectural and graphic designer in Trondheim, Cape Town and Dornbirn (Austria), and travelled Russia and Japan, before embarking on her PhD in Architectural Design.

Anna is currently preparing a course related to her PhD research for The Brilliant Club’s Scholars Programme.