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Tema - entornos de arquitectura
Tema - Migración
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What makes a young architect emigrate?

I was never a run of the mil student of architecture. I think since I was a boy I’ve felt a push to skirt the outer fringes of discipline. Drawing architecture was never enough for me. I needed to write it, dissect it, mix it up and put it out there. Mix this up with structured schools and all of the stumbling that youth brings with it, and you’ll find yourself in a tangle of contradictions, on an irregular path, swerving off course, full of forks in the road and wrong moves.

Along the way, tripping on the same stumbling blocks, I landed together with so many colleagues and friends that I began to think that what was “normal” is actually an illusion. All of us fit the best we could into academically imposed straightjackets while we did “other stuff”. We all wasted time on ideas that were seemingly good for nothing. Over the years we learned to waste time so well, that it even seemed like some interesting things came out of it, like illustration, videogames, photography, teas, rehearsals, conferences, film, comic books, history, furniture, groups, music… No one is “only” an architect any more. We all pool from everyday life. Those who are “only” architects are hermits in a multi-faceted hyper-connected society.

When we finally graduate (or even before that), many of us time wasters try to find a way to make a living off our ideas. I don’t think I’ve actually turned my back on architecture as a discipline. We would all love to build our “first home”. It’s simply that the times we studied in largely closed the door to practising the architecture promised to us in school. So we had to be flexible. We have great examples of the same to be found among our older brothers by just turning to the Eames or the Floyds, people who thought about how they could do things differently basing themselves on architecture’s sensibility.  We took out our shovels and pics and started to dig.

Unfortunately, not all soils are good for digging, and perhaps some of us learned to use tools that were not very appropriate for where we came from, or perhaps the ground was not solid enough to balance our feet on.

What makes a young architect emigrate?

A dream. It’s always a dream. I don’t think it’s the living conditions or the salaries. We are young. Most of us have a family to support us, and normally a home to go back to and a village where life is peaceful and pleasant.

When a young architect emigrates it really is not to do one or two years of post-graduate work and come back. It is to find fertile ground, a place where all one’s energy doesn’t need to be spent justifying oneself and withstanding belittling. It is to strive for one’s goals. Where being “a rare bird” isn’t something to be ashamed of, but rather proud, and where “wasting time” is the scaffolding for bringing architecture theory up to date. Something so often talked about that never gets done.

It’s not a whim. Nor is it actually a physical need. It’s rather an imperative emanating from the spirit.


From that Esprit Nouveau that they always told us about:

It turns out that it doesn’t thrive on air alone.

Text translated by Beth Gelb
(Granada, 1986). Research Fellow en Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University (Washington DC). Doctor en Historia de la Arquitectura (Politecnico di Torino) y Doctor en Historia del Arte (UGR). Arquitecto egresado de la ETSAG y Magíster en Arquitectura de la Universidad de los Andes, Colombia. Socio fundador de Amate+Saga, oficina de arquitectura y diseño estratégico. Asistente editorial del Journal académico Architectural Histories, perteneciente a la European Architectural History Network. Colaborador habitual de National Geographic Historia. Antiguo corresponsal de La Ciudad Viva .

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