The notion of spatial agency presents a different way of looking at how buildings and space can be produced. Moving away from architecture's traditional focus on the look and making of buildings, spatial agency proposes a much more expansive field of opportunities in which architects and non-architects can operate. It suggests other ways of doing architecture. In the spirit of Cedric Price the research project, which was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, started with the belief that a building is not necessarily the best solution to a spatial problem. With this in mind, the work uncovers a lesser known and visible history of architecture, one that moves sharply away from the figure of the architect as individual hero, and replaces it with a much more collaborative approach in which agents act with, and on behalf of, others.
In a book and on the website spatialagency.net the project collated examples of practices where there is a transformative intent to make the status quo better, but the means are very varied, from activism to pedagogy, publications to networking, making stuff to making policy. Here, in Bruno Latour's terms, critical attention is shifted from architecture as a matter of fact to architecture as a matter of concern. As matters of fact, buildings can be subjected to rules and methods, and they can be treated as objects on their own terms. As matters of concern, they enter into socially embedded networks, in which the consequences of architecture are of much more significance than the objects of architecture.
Although Spatial Agency started out as a critique of the conservative tendencies of mainstream practice, it ended up as a celebration of the bravery, canniness and optimism of an inspiring group of historical and contemporary figures.