Pre-Organised Special Sessions

To be competed with more special sessions soon...

Prof. Francesco Lo Piccolo & Prof. Vincenzo Todaro

Title: The Exception As the Rule: the Dark Side of Planning


Co- Chair:

Prof. Francesco Lo Piccolo, Department of Architecture, University of Palermo, Italy


Prof. Vincenzo Todaro, Department of Architecture, University of Palermo, Italy



The Special Session addresses the issue of the “state of exception” analysing the role of planning about suspension of norms and laws in specific contexts.

Starting from the theoretical reflections of Agamben’s theory (2005) of the “state of exception”, the Special Session reorients the Agamben’s theoretical model from the political sphere to spatial domain, which is deployed to produce “zones of exception”.

In critical and marginal contexts, planning often becomes the instrument for the extension of the “state of exception” through the mechanism of suspension of norms and manipulation of planning discourses and forecasts.

In relation to these considerations, the Special Session proposes a critical reflection about: how this model of exception can be deployed by power; what are the contexts in which the model is used; what is its specific application in “Politically Correct” Planning Discourses.

Specifically, the Special Session welcomes experiences not just related to exceptional contexts/cases of hegemonic powers, but also to common practices in Western democratic countries, in which the state of exception is imposed in the name of “emergency” or “necessity” and in which the exception tends to become the rule.

About the first case, also in Western democratic contexts many examples testify the “suspension of norms” as a common practice, in particular in planning activities, in order to justify emergency reasons (the current experience of restricting access to public spaces can be an example of this condition). In this context, the principle of “emergency” is used in order to produce new structure of laws by hegemonic power.

About the second case, the reflection is about the suspension of norms and plans in the rhetoric of the “politically correct discourses”. In this case, critical reflection focuses about how the use of some principles (sustainability, green urbanism, new urbanism, etc.), can mystifies dubious and questionable planning activities.

In any case, Agamben’s theories applied to these issues highlight how the generated “emptiness of law” can be instrumentally used in order to legalize what cannot be legal. In these cases, planning plays an ambiguous and problematic role and contributes to produce inequality and injustice forms.


Keywords: “state of exception”, emergency, necessity, suspension of rules, ethical responsibilities of planning.





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