Keywords:architecture, law, aesthetics, contingency, excess
In a recent project on property’s relation to architecture, I defined architecture as an act of contingent excess. “Excess,” in this context, means symbolic work or work that exceeds the slippery slope of baseline necessity. For Georges Bataille, excess is the non-recoupable economy of wasted energy and excessive consumption produced by capitalism. This excess produces luxuria, as Pliny the Elder called it, which results in useless spectacles and overwrought monuments. Without disagreeing with the possibility of such economies, I want to argue that, in the case of architecture, the excess displayed in aesthetic elaboration associated with design is not always pointless consumption. It is recoupable.