My interest in the Burning Man festival, the breaking away or setting apart of a people group from the society norm socio-politically and physically, led me to the political theology ‘state of exception’.
“State of exception” is the tile of Agamben’s book in which he explores the theory behind the understated and informal legalities of the state of emergency as enforced by political powers, as presented by his senior contemporary Carl Schmitt. Agamben describes the state of exception existing and directly subject to the rule, and poses that the rule ” lives only by the exception” (Agamben and Attell, 2005, p.58). While the rule of law is often created and enforced from a government administrative position, I will also be exploring a scenario in which the state of exception is created from a bottom up resistance or protest, against the state or powers that be.
To explore the state of exception through the architectural act, I researched two projects; Exodus by Rem Koolhaas and Villa Spatiale by Yona Friedman.
Inspired by the Berlin Wall, the Exodus project positions a separatist region enclosed within a boundary of two linear walls that divides London, and thus creates a space of desire within the walls of whose citizens become ‘voluntary prisoners of architecture’ as the space within the walls is inhabited. The activities within the wall are organised yet unusual.
Koolhaas was interested in the strong psychological and symbolic effects of the Berlin Wall, despite the simple and somewhat careless approach to material, and he argues these non-tangible effects were more powerful than the material physicality that the wall itself embodies (Koolhaas and Mau, 1998).
In the sketch above I was experimenting with the socio-political effects the architectural act as a boundary can have, and came up with associations that the architectural act can result as follows:
- Solid continuous wall associates with rebellion and uprising
- Intermittent arrangement of walls associates with resistance, protest or activism
- Columns associates with transition
- Glass wall associates with hierarchy
A compilation of photographs taken of the Berlin Wall. (TIME.com, 2017)
Sketching elements of the wall.
Ville Spatiale, the second of my research projects into the state of exception, Friedman imagines a “new leaderless world” (Lynch, 2017) where individuals improvise architecture within a skeleton, resulting in an accidental arbitrary facade. The skeleton framework is the infrastructure to support the ad hoc and flexible approach that the architecture needs, to be free for conception by the individual that inhabits it.
Experimentation: Applying Exodus state of exception through the architectural act on the horizontal plane, through floors, in a vertical urban metropolis.
- Agamben, G. and Attell, K. (2005). State of exception. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Koolhaas, R. and Mau, B. (1998). S, M, L, XL. New York: Monacelli Press.
- TIME.com. (2017). The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall – Photo Essays. [online] Available at: http://content.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1631993,00.html [Accessed 9 Oct. 2017].
- Lynch, P. (2017). Yona Friedman on Empowering People with Adaptable Architecture. [online] ArchDaily. Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/878616/yona-friedman-on-empowering-people-with-adaptable-architecture [Accessed 9 Oct. 2017].