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Now also a Master’s thanks to the Spanish Official Gazette BOE-A-2015-10592

Architecture is a state of mind

Comic strip by Quino

We have all been surprised when, at one time or another, after years of friendship with someone whose work we know perfectly well, we suddenly discover that she actually studied journalism, psychology, or law. But this is something that never happens with architects.

An architect will tell you what they are immediately after the “pleased to meet you”, if not even before that.

This post arose intending to questioning that custom, or even quirk, of anyone who has studied architecture of calling themselves “architects” regardless of the work they are employed in.

We can already tell you that, although that was the original intention, the result was very different.

When thinking about this post, this music crossed our path. Do you recognise it? It’s the soundtrack from Northern Exposure a television series from the 1990s ill-treated by television programmers here in Spain long before we could resort to Netflix for our freedom. The protagonist, Joel Fleishman, is a Jewish doctor trained in New York, whose dream as a student was to work at Mount Sinai Hospital. But as a form of repayment of his student loan, he ended up in a remote village in Alaska, Cicely. From one day to the next, that future of open heart surgery, surrounded by the best possible equipment and state of the art technology in the heart of the Big Apple, gradually morphed into a present of home remedies for the flu.

Just like Dr Fleischman, we architects were educated for fame, taught for building the new Guggenheim (indeed 1715 submitted entries for the Helsinki competition) have, in the best of all cases, ended up working on opening licences for bars or pharmacies. Oftentimes, we are far off the course that we thought we were on in our school years. It might be jewellery designing, baking, children’s education, crafts work, photography… But what is surprising is that in call cases, we have made the transition (or did our wandering through the desert, as the case may be) without erasing our identity as architects –not only from our CVs – but from our DNA.

We introduce ourselves as architects to strangers although it’s been years since we’ve opened an Autocad session to work with a preliminary sketch. Little does it matter how happy we are with our current occupation. Crouched inside us, architecture is there waiting for its opportunity to take control of our life. We are simply architects who cook, who weave, who sing…

In one of the last episodes of the series, shortly before he has the chance to leave Cicely, Dr Fleischman realises that he can’t, that New York is a state of mind. He doesn’t need to go back because he is already there.

Something similar must happen to us with architecture. It configures our heads in such a way that we can no longer see the world in any other way than through its eyes.

This is how the critique our original critical post melting down into deep understanding, into an empathetic smile. Because we too, whether dragged there or voluntarily taken ourselves to other latitudes, want to continue to be part of that community of crazy people who have architecture as their state of mind.

Authors of the post:

Raquel Martínez graduated from the Madrid School of Architecture ETSAM (2000)1, and Alberto Ruiz, graduated from the Madrid School or Architecture ETSAM (2001) with a Master’s Degree in Architectural Theory, History and Analysis (2014). Both are friends and reside in Madrid.

Since 2009 they have been involved in the Degree Programme in Fundamentals of Architecture at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (URJC) where they teach. They share an interest in hand drawing, architecture from the mid twentieth century, certain architectural designs, and the blog on architecture called arquitectura con minúsculas.

Text translated by Beth Gelb
Notas de página

Now also a Master’s thanks to the Spanish Official Gazette BOE-A-2015-10592

Raquel Martínez, Arquitecto por la ETSAM (2000), y Alberto Ruiz, arquitecto por la ETSAM (2001) y Máster en Teoría, Historia y Análisis de la Arquitectura (2014); son amigos y residentes en Madrid. Desde el año 2009 están involucrados en el Grado en Fundamentos de la Arquitectura de la Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (URJC) en el que son profesores. Comparten interés por la arquitectura de mediados del siglo XX y el dibujo a mano, algunos proyectos profesionales y un espacio de reflexión en el blog arquitectura con minúsculas.

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