Architecture in Suspension
Disruptive practices within the state of exception
In his work State of Exception, the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben has recently studied the consequences of the exception becoming the rule. He explains a situation where the law requires the partial exclusion of the legal order so as to preserve its legitimate character. It forms the basis of the so-called "spaces in suspension", where the rule is the exception in the form of the suspension of the legal order, the anomie. In those spaces the act of government is located in a threshold area of ambiguity between general and particular spheres. The transference of Agamben’s concept into architecture is possible. There are physical scenarios where the norm is not a security shield since it is accomplished and questioned at the same time. What type of architecture is responding to those spaces in suspension? Is there a critical attitude boosted by those kinds of architectural practices? The paper approaches the topic through a theoretical contextualization of the idea of the state of exception in architecture. This approach is based on the analysis of some case studies, which are considered as disruptive practices since they are proposing new ways of practising architecture. They utilize strategies such as new interpretations of the law (urban prosthesis, occupation of public spaces), the replacement of the authorities’ duties (occupation of public buildings and empty plots) or the proposal of new teaching practices. Their analysis let the authors define a specific context in architectural practice, which reflects a new paradigm called "architecture in suspension".