© 2020

About Star Architecture

Reflecting on Cities in Europe

  • Nadia Alaily-Mattar
  • Davide Ponzini
  • Alain Thierstein

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xix
  2. Davide Ponzini, Nadia Alaily-Mattar, Alain Thierstein
    Pages 1-19
  3. Approaching Star Architecture in and Across Cities in Europe

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 21-21
    2. Alain Thierstein, Nadia Alaily-Mattar, Johannes Dreher
      Pages 45-53
    3. Giovanni Semi, Magda Bolzoni
      Pages 55-67
  4. Star Architecture and the Media

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 95-95
    2. Nadia Alaily-Mattar, Alain Thierstein
      Pages 97-114
    3. Sébastien Jacquot, Gaël Chareyron
      Pages 133-150
  5. Urban Performances of Star Architecture

  6. Star Architecture in Heritage Rich Cities

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 245-245
    2. Francesca Cominelli, Sébastien Jacquot
      Pages 247-266

About this book


Cities across the world have been resorting to star architects to brand their projects, spark urban regeneration and market the city image internationally. This book shifts the attention from star architects to star architecture, arguing that the process of deciding about and implementing relevant architectural and urban projects is not the product of any single actor. Star architecture can, in fact, be better studied and understood as assembled by multiple actors and in its relationship with urban transformation. In its 18 chapters, the book presents a multidisciplinary collection of expert contributions in the fields of urban planning, architecture, media studies, urban economics, geography, and sociology, consistently brought together for the first time to deal with this topic. Through a vast array of case studies and analytical techniques touching over 20 cities in Europe, the book shows the positive and more problematic impacts of star architecture with reference to the preservation of built heritage, tourism and media. The book will be of interest to architects, sociologists, urban planners, and public administrators.


Star architecture Urban landscape Urban design Manufactured authenticity European architecture Social sensitivities Real estate markets Social network narratives Photography Image circulation

Editors and affiliations

  • Nadia Alaily-Mattar
    • 1
  • Davide Ponzini
    • 2
  • Alain Thierstein
    • 3
  1. 1.Urban DevelopmentTechnische Universität MünchenMunichGermany
  2. 2.Department of Architecture and Urban StudiesPolitecnico di MilanoMilanItaly
  3. 3.Urban DevelopmentTechnische Universität MünchenMunichGermany

About the editors

Dr. Nadia Alaily-Mattar is a Research and Teaching Associate at the Chair of Urban Development in the Department of Architecture of the Technical University of Munich (TUM). She is an architect, and graduate of the American University of Beirut (AUB). She holds a PhD Degree from University College of London and a Master’s degree from London School of Economics and Political Science. From September 2015 to August 2017, she managed an inter-disciplinary research project funded by the German Research Fund (DFG), titled “Star architecture and its role in re-positioning small and medium sized cities”.

Dr. Davide Ponzini is an Associate Professor of Urban Planning at the Politecnico di Milano. He received his PhD (cum laude) in Urban Planning from Politecnico di Milano. His research activity focuses on planning theory, policy tool analysis, urban and cultural policy, heritage preservation, spectacularization of contemporary architecture and the urban environment. He has been a recipient of several scholarships and research grants, and has been a visiting researcher at Yale, Johns Hopkins, Columbia University and others. 

Dr. Alain Thierstein is a full Professor of spatial development at the technical University of Mucnich (TUM). He holds a PhD degree in economic sciences from St. Gallen University. He has held positions at St Gallen and ETH Zurich. He is also a partner of EBP Schweiz AG, Zurich.

Bibliographic information


“This book is the most up-to-date reference on star architecture in cities in Europe as it brings together a series of original studies on the theme, which can be extended to other contexts. … this book has led to a step forward in the field of urban studies. The various chapters accurately help the reader understand the relationship between famous architects and their multinational design firms with urban planning, the capitalist city-making process and the stakeholders involved.” (Federico Camerin, Journal of Urban Regeneration and Renewal, Vol. 14 (3), 2021)

“The book makes the case that it is rather nonsensical to speak about star architecture as if it were a uniform phenomenon. Quite the opposite, the selection of case studies demonstrates that star architecture projects are inevitably as diverse as the entities and processes that procure them. For instance, ‘About Star Architecture’ shows that there is no such thing as a typical political pattern (e.g. neoliberal policy-making) that is more or less likely to promote and produce star architecture projects.” (Jan Silberberger, Journal of Urban Design, September 7, 2020)

“One of the most crucial contributions of this book is offering a comprehensive systematization of different debates in urban studies. It proposes a solid understanding of star architecture and it can potentially open the way to a number of further explorations and analytical understandings. Moreover, the book clearly may be of interest for readers beyond academia. The chapters are accurate and engage with international scholarship but they are also enjoyable and readable for practitioners and scholars working in fields such as architecture, communication, media and cultural studies.” (Alberto Vanolo, Urban Studies, Vol. 57 (13), 2020)