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Tema - LSP/competencias
Tema - Profession

Let … Do the Architecture

Picture by Jimena Echarte Sanz “My father at work.”

We’re kicking off the new Fundación Arquía blog with a topic that could not be more current, the Professional Services Act. To do so, we are enlisting the sharp pen of José María Echarte (n+1) to break the ice on this hot topic. So, as you can guess, we welcome all your comments on this matter.

This country has reached the point where writing “Let the architects do the architecture” would not even be something out of a Jardiel Poncela novel, which doesn’t say much about the country or about the legislation that the profession finds itself up against.

The Professional Services and Associations Act [Ley de Servicios y Colegios Profesionales, LSCP after the Spanish], which has transformed the title phrase from mere literary wordplay into justified demand, started its definitive path in  December 2012 with the leaking of a totally doctrinaire text  –with scant scientific backing – whose purpose was clear: to do away with the competencies based on university curricula for training certifying degrees which have produced magnificent results up to now, and replace them with a competitive jungle, absolutely divorced from training and content where everyone vies with each other.  

The excuse? A fallacious improvement in specialization –through alleged market justice that always proves not to be very just – and service to the public based on increasing supply to regulate prices. However, these arguments hardly bear up to informed, unbiased analysis.  Beyond the empty words, such specialization already exists: through degree-holding, certifying coursework and the competencies that come with them. As regards increased supply, there is currently a 60% rate of unemployment and insecure employment in the profession. Honoraria, now approaching dumping, have dropped nearly 60% (of which the government, being the system’s main supporter, is quite aware). It doesn’t seem therefore that there is any supply problem.

What is the actual situation? Unfortunately, it is very different.

And, although it is true that “Europe is asking for this” –an ideal mantra for these absurd times – this is true only partially. What is being sought is regulation of our professional associations. We owe the current mumbo-jumbo to the same political class that is aiming to enact this in no more than an attempt to fix what is not broken lacking rationality and responsibility.

Despite tangible reality, the Bill followed its course. It started off badly with the leak -and the test balloons, apocryphal drafts and endless vagaries that were launched later, unworthy of any decent government.  It ended up even worse, sending everything to a dubiously comprised “working group” with even more dubious results, purporting to cover entire sector’s area of responsibility.

Nonetheless, the hidden purpose remained intact: the pauperization of the professional-technical sector, its transformation into an amorphous, easily interchangeable workforce. This “everyone can do everything” stance (necessarily the antithesis of specialisation) only benefits a small number of big corporations.  They are more than willing to go fishing in the troubled waters of this professional morass where, as everyone can do everything, we’ll end up not being able to do anything, or at least anything worthwhile.

Therefore, and repressing how absurd this may appear, it seems necessary to continue to write that architecture (which is not construction, just like surgery is not giving stitches) should be done by architects. They are the ones that are trained in a discipline that is neither simple nor an “artistic” elective to complement the technical component in other disciplines. I am not an artist. I am a technically specialised professional. I was trained to perform certain competencies responsibly and safely.  Unfortunately, the rest of the issues range from hypocrisy to inordinate, irresponsible quest for pillage and lack of respect for architects’ work.

And that, no more and no less, is architecture’s job.

Text translated by Beth Gelb
(Almería, 1973) Arquitecto por la ETSAM (2000) y como tal ha trabajado en su propio estudio en concursos nacionales e internacionales, en obras publicas y en la administración. Desde 2008 es coeditor junto a María Granados y Juan Pablo Yakubiuk del blog n+1.

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