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ARQ (Santiago)

versión On-line ISSN 0717-6996

ARQ (Santiago)  no.92 Santiago abr. 2016

http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0717-69962016000100002 

EDITORIAL

 

Conditions of Exception

  

Francisco Díaz*

* Editor ARQ magazine and professor, Escuela de Arquitectura, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile. fdiazp@uc.cl


It was Vasari who in the xvi Century taught us to read the history of architecture through the careers of the great artists, exceptional characters whose talents had led different art forms to a superior state that still today we know with the term Vasari coined: the Renaissance. It’s not hard to see here the beginnings of a way of writing history –and therefore of understanding the very tradition of architecture– through the so-called ‘masters,’ that is, characters that with their oeuvre set the range of possibilities within an institutionalized system of knowledge that we commonly refer to as discipline.

Until not long ago the notion of ‘exception’ in architecture was based on this logic: exceptional characters capable of producing ‘extraordinary’ works and whose exceptional quality was transmitted through publications, research, awards, exhibitions and other institutionally accepted media.

This was the case until the end of the 1990s when Giorgio Agamben reintroduced the idea of the ‘State of Exception’ that Carl Schmitt had proposed in 1922. By indicating that the concentration camp was the archetype that best represented this notion, Agamben established an architectural image of the state of exception, locating it and defining an order for this concept. Since then architects have started to question the nature of these spaces. In this time we have also become aware that, as neutral as a thought behind a project may be, their effects are always political. The exception, as Agamben clearly states, "is a type of exclusion," showing that the political condition was implicit in architecture even since Vasari established a gap between the masters and ordinary people.

Conscious of this lineage, in this issue of arq we have decided not to take on Vasari’s character-based approach. Instead we wanted to inquire into what exception means for architecture if we were to expand the imaginary that Agamben proposed. Although we deal with the contemporary case of refugee camps in Turkey, we are aware that there are also other forms of exception that affect or involve architecture. Examples of these are zones of economic exception in different parts of the world; exceptional historic moments that impact architecture (in the trilogy of texts about the remodeling of San Borja, the building for the UNCTAD III, and Ritoque); urban spaces of exception such as the gentlemen’s club; or machines for generating exceptions like the architecture competitions. The projects selected in this issue also reflect these exceptional conditions, whether in the case of the Alameda in Santiago (a truly exceptional commission), the Centro Nave in Western Santiago, the Praça das Artes in São Paulo, the House of One in Berlin, The Wave in Valparaíso, or even the way in which a courtyard in Princeton is transformed into a space of exception by a fence.

This issue number 92 of ARQ is also exceptional because it is presented in a new format –smaller but thicker– replacing that which the magazine had maintained since issue number 30, published in 1995. On that occasion Montserrat Palmer, former editor and one of the founders of arq along with Alex Moreno, explained the change of format by indicating that the goal of the magazine was to influence the "qualitative development of architecture in Chile." Twenty one years later, once the magazine has consolidated such influence, we think that ARQ can aim for something bigger: not only to maintain from Chile a dialogue of peers with the main ideas, themes and proposals of contemporary architecture, but also to expand this conversation to other actors in the public sphere.

The previous format was subject to specific conditions for reading that are difficult to find nowadays (a cleared, large table, as if for reading architecture plans). This new format allows for an easier, every day use. A magazine that can be left on the bedside table along with other books that are being read, or that can easily be carried in a bag, as its size is similar to that of a laptop. Because although this issue is about exceptions, we refuse the idea that its reading might require exceptional conditions. Instead we want the magazine to be read anywhere, under normal circumstances. We hope that you, our readers, will prove this possible.

 

Referencias

AGAMBEN, Giorgio. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998).

PALMER, Montserrat , «Editorial». ARQ 30 (Agosto, 1995), 3.

SCHMITT, Carl (1888-1985). Political theology: four chapters on the concept of sovereignty. (Cambridge, MA : MIT Press, 1985).

VASARI, Giorgio(1511-1574). Lives of the artists; biographies of the most eminent architects, painters, and sculptors of Italy. (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1946). Original in Italian, 1550.


AGAMBEN, Giorgio. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998).         [ Links ]

PALMER, Montserrat , «Editorial». ARQ 30 (Agosto, 1995), 3.         [ Links ]

SCHMITT, Carl (1888-1985). Political theology: four chapters on the concept of sovereignty. (Cambridge, MA : MIT Press, 1985).         [ Links ]

VASARI, Giorgio(1511-1574). Lives of the artists; biographies of the most eminent architects, painters, and sculptors of Italy. (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1946). Original in Italian, 1550.         [ Links ]

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