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Are you specialising or are you working?

Comic strip @Lexcurso

For any architect that has been through a school of architecture in Spain over the last decade, the notions of teamwork, multidisciplinarity and specialisation are almost hackneyed. And that far-off sounding story about the trade of architecture changing and never again being what it was, old stories about the good old days making us feel like we hit the party late and all we can do is pick up the pieces of the wreckage.

With all these changes that those of us about to earn our degrees, the architects of the future, are going to have to deal with, I wonder whether the way architecture is taught today actually corresponds to the real world or not. What is true is that the curriculum hasn’t changed very much at all, and that although specific software for architects has become widespread in any School of Architecture, there is still a long way to go in that field.

In many areas, specialisation has been seen as a panacea for all of our profession’s problems. And there are quite a few, it might be said in passing. Well, if there is anything that we have learned from the Public Services Procurement Act (Ley de Contratación de Servicios Públicos) after several years in the classroom is that an architect’s trade is already very specific as it is. Our scope of action is regulated and is the same for everyone regardless of their degree of “specialisation”. So because we homogenise the profession by issuing the same degree to all of our graduates, academic models focusing on each one of the different branches in architecture are unviable in our country.

The paradox in all of this is that society continues to demand virtually the same thing from architects, and the origin of all of this mess lies in the gradual increase in the required content in the construction documentation and the plummeting of professional fees. Increasingly, there is a shift from studios with a pyramid-like structure to horizontal associations between professionals. Only then, once one has begun working in the field, is the time to talk about specialisation,

This  “imposed fad” of diving into a Master’s degree as soon as one graduates is almost unnatural. Very seldom do we have the experience or the determination one needs to know which branch we are best suited for.  As the current curricula stands, early specialization means tilting the balance in learning towards a certain area. And this is very dangerous when our liability is set forth in our Education Act according to the type of agents we are, and no distinctions are going to be made according to our specialisation.

Beyond any doubt, this specialisationitis does a huge service to certain sectors in our profession, i.e. those that offer courses or Masters’ degrees in specialisation and those mercenary professionals who see fishing in the pool of architecture as a way to overcome the digital divide. Yet another example of how architecture is its own wolf…

Text translated by Beth Gelb
(Murcia, 1986) Arquitecto y Arquitecto Técnico por la UCAM. Dirige el blog Pedacicos Arquitectónicos junto a Antonio Navarro y Juan Francisco Martínez además de MetaSpace Blog junto a Manuel Saga, desarrollando paralelamente su labor profesional en el campo de la construcción, el diseño y la docencia.

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