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New territories: broadening the bounds of architecture

Arquitectos preparando un taller creativo para niños. Fuente: Sinergia Sostenible

Architects preparing a creative workshop for children. Source: Sinergia Sostenible

Immersed in a society that seems to have lost its social function that, because of our specific training we are destined to perform, we architects must reinvent ourselves or die. In a recent post, Stepienybarno listed no fewer than 100 professional choices that are hard reality in Spain today. Some are seemly very peripheral. Exploring new territories beyond the traditional bounds of the profession has broadened the very concept of what architecture is today.

Without aiming to be exhaustive, we will enumerate seven territories that seem particularly enticing to us and whose potential has yet to fully materialise:

1_Teaching architecture to children

The most direct way to restore lost sensitivity towards architecture and urban surroundings is undoubtedly to invest in the adults of the future. Architecture classes for children have recently become a veritable cultural phenomenon and have revealed their great potential for creativity and involvement of our little ones.

2_Promoting architecture and cities

Increasingly, we as architects cooperate in promoting architectural heritage or work as guides in cities or at monuments. With the Internet, the chances for offering our experience in cities and our heritage are burgeoning exponentially.

3_City branding

As cities become increasingly standardised, they reinvent themselves to stand out, vying to attract new investment, activities and dwellers. Bolstering cities’ ‘brand image’ has become key in all strategic development plans. Half way between urban planning and advertising, we believe this is one of the territories associated with our profession that has the most potential for development.

4_Social mediation

Whether working in teams on urban development plans or as direct advisors for groups of inhabitants, with our basic training we are offered the chance to be very useful mediators when law, policy and actual physical reality on a neighbourhood scale converge.   Many courses and Masters’ programmes are designed to train us in ‘social habitat management.

5_Design and building

Continuing on in the “design and build” traditional prevalent in the English-speaking world, we begin to see architects heading building teams. In Spain, traditionally this role has been performed by engineers, draughtsmen and builders. There is no doubt that our training greatly enriches the overall approach to building, and we have many assets that will help produce quality architecture.

6_Technological innovation

In our studios, we use all sorts of products envisaged to innovate building, i.e. materials and systems, or that facilitate design, calculation and communicating architecture, i.e. software. When architects join R+D teams, they become more attentive to clients, a key aspect to their success on this fiercely competitive market.

7_Design of virtual surroundings

While the analogical-digital hybrid has only just begun, virtual architectural space is already here. Although it is a territory scarcely inhabited by our profession, we as architects may become key figures in creating and re-creating virtual surroundings such as sets for films, videogames, holographic recreations and more.

Each one of these territories could be a post in itself, or even an entire series of posts. But what we aim to do here is not to go into depth, but provide food for thought. Which of these territories seems to have the most potential for the future? Which others would you add to the list?

Text translated by Beth Gelb
- Luis Llopis i Eva Chacón - @luisbonsai, arquitecto ETSAM 1992: Tengo varios másteres y bla, bla. Me apasiona la arquitectura de Fallingwater, viajar tomando apuntes en mi cuaderno de dibujo, y desconectar sumergiéndome en el mundo submarino. @evabonsai, arquitecta ETSAG, 2006: Yo también tengo másteres, doctorado, etc. Soy curiosa por naturaleza, amante de la 'cocina' arquitectónica y la buena música. Si no me encuentras, búscame subida a alguna cubierta, árbol o montaña con buenas vistas. Nos vemos en las redes y en www.bonsaiarquitectos.es

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