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Profesor de Retretes – Santiago de Molina on Sáenz de Oiza.

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El elogio de la sombra – Junichiro Tanizaki (In Praise of Shadows)

How to be an architecture professor under 30 without dying along the way

Raiders of the Lost Ark, Spielberg, 1981.

Each year, Forbes publishes the30 under 30” list highlighting “young entrepreneurs, creative leaders and the brightest stars” of the year. According to MIT News, at least 25 of those on the 2016 list are alumni of this very prestigious university. Of them, more than five are graduate assistants or post-doctoral students with teaching responsibilities. Not one is an architect.

Frankly, I am not in the least surprised. It is easy for us to imagine a successful Wall Street broker without any grey hair, but not so a deservedly successful renowned architect. Architecture involves complex, deep knowledge. The great masters of the 20th century are remembered as older personalities whose wisdom has accumulated over the years. Under thirty, we are barely apprentices, explorers at times, even innovators, but lacking that holistic vision that only the years can provide. How on earth can we be professors of anything?

Don’t get me wrong. I believe that today more than ever integration of young professors in our schools of architecture is necessary. Added to increasing diversification in our discipline, the crisis in our sector has made academia a real professional choice over the “great designing architect”. Architects who build their careers as researchers or communicators will inevitably and more quickly come across teaching. How can the challenge be faced?

First of all, I recommend an act of freedom. Forget about being a teacher and take on the role of the facilitator. The design of teaching programmes and plans is a true adventure when you think about two-way communication where the professors facilitate techniques so that students can generate their own knowledge that the professor gets back in return.

Graphic expression is perhaps the best example of this. It is a subject where teachers hope that thanks to some basic but precious tools, their students will surprise them with absolutely rigorous exercises. A surprised professor is a satisfied professor.

Also, I think it is key to begin with a specialised area that allows us to convey knowledge as we continue maturing. Along these lines, being a ‘toilet professor’1 for twelve years like Sáenz de Oiza may be as attractive a choice as it is wise. Who said the ritual of going to the toilet 2 doesn’t enshrine in itself all of the wisdom of architecture? This type of beginning makes it easier to achieve diversity while being rigorous from the start and provides an anchor so as not to go adrift before our time.

Lastly, in order to be a professor of architecture not only do you need to be a good architect. Above all you have to be a good studentTeaching how to be a student,3 how to learn independently and innovatively, that is truly what a teacher can add. If only all of us were like the teachers of yesteryear and our illustrious discourse echoed over time. But as long as that is not the case, we have to be humble and teach without ever ceasing to learn.

As if we were forever under 30.


Text translated by Beth Gelb
Notas de página
1

Profesor de Retretes – Santiago de Molina on Sáenz de Oiza.

2

El elogio de la sombra – Junichiro Tanizaki (In Praise of Shadows)

Autor:
Arquitecto, Investigador. Investigador pre-doctoral en el programa Arquitectura. Historia y Proyecto del Politécnico de Turín. Ex Profesor de la Universidad de Los Andes, Colombia. Colaborador de Historia National Geographic. Fundador de blogURBS y URBS Revista de Estudios Urbanos y Ciencias Sociales . Antiguo corresponsal de La Ciudad Viva .

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