Últimos posts
Tema - Formación
Tema - Investigación
Tema - PFC
Tema - Profesión
manuel saga
1

Competencias del arquitecto en España (Skills in architecture in Spain)

3

This post is the result of several conversations with teachers and students of architecture, including: Rafael de Lacour, Assistant Director of the enabling master’s degree at the University of Granada School of Architecture (ETSAG – UGR), and Ana María García Linares, Johana Díaz, Paula García Cerpa and Víctor Fernández, students on the master’s degree course in Architecture at Granada University.

4

Manuel Saga The bright side of the PFC, posted in the Fundación Arquia blog (September, 2017)

5

Rodrigo Almonacid: Choose Your Own Adventure: The Strange Case of FDPs in Architecture, posted in the Fundación Arquia blog (July 2019)

6

Andrea Robles: Tell me what School you’re from, and I’ll tell you what your Final Project is, posted in the Fundación Arquia blog (October 2016)

Studying architecture in Spain is studying architecture twice

One frequent subject of conversation in Spanish university schools of architecture used to be the skills different universities required of students working on their thesis projects.

With this in mind, the confessions of graduates who have recently completed degree programmes based on foreign educational models seem ironic and even amusing. In her blog Enlace Arquitectura, Daphne Cruz talked about how gruelling her “four or five years” of training had been. If she’d said that to a group of Architecture students handing in their theses at any Spanish university, the very least she would have received would have been a slap in the face. Comparisons are impossible because we’re talking about two fundamentally different models.

  1. We are a weird bug (posted on Jaunuary 2017)

One of my favourite Christmas traditions is to go back to the School of Architecture in Granada around the time final projects are due. The conversations often hinge around the skills required for a final project depending on where you present it.

Confessions of recent graduates from foreign systems seem ironic and even funny. Daphe Cruz speaks to us in Enlace Arquitectura –Mexico- about her hard training in “four to five years”. If you say that at any school of architecture in Spain around the time final projects are due, you earn yourself a slap in the face #caranchoa for sure. We can’t compare because we are talking about two essentially different models.

First, a degree in Spain is a different piece of paper with different requirements. In the White Paper on Degrees in Architecture in Spain (Libro Blanco del Título de Grado de Arquitectura – ANECA 2015)1 there is a list of 62 skills required for students of architecture.1 As many as sixty-two. And there has to be some sort of proficiency test in all of these skills although we will end up specialising in only some. On the list are things like “Electromagnetism” and “Urban Economy” that would be very hard to find in the curricula abroad, which usually boil things down to 8-10 much more general items. While skills for architects in Spain are established largely according to architects’ legal attributions, in other places, architects work along more general lines.2 The two belong to two different categories and cannot be compared. We are a different animal.

Secondly, studying architecture in Spain is studying twice the amount of time. In 2015 the University of Granada ranked architecture as the course of studies that students took the longest to complete, taking an average of 9,35 years to complete a 5 year programme. As things stand now, the certifying Masters’ programmes arising from Bologna are official. This requirement for a postgraduate degree in order to practice the profession is flagrant proof that architecture studies in Spain were never a degree on the same plane as they were abroad. We are a larger animal. It takes us longer to grow.

This means that we Spanish architects are weathered in school before we step out into the real world. We start to work at a much older age than our counterparts in other countries where the degree programmes are shorter or where accreditation to work is granted by bodies like the RIBA. It is said that the training in architecture in Spain is better. I would say it’s tougher and more extensive. Our students are no better or worse. They simply have more experience, are older and more mature. This is not necessarily an advantage, because it takes time. When our counterparts are already half a decade into their careers, we have just graduated. We spend four years more than they do in school, and nine more than Le Corbusier did.

In short, we are different animals that take twice as long to grow and that need to know things that are not of interest. Inexplicably, in the end, the mixture seems to turn out well. What strange animals…

Hernández and Fernández in “Las Aventuras de Tintín”. Hergé 1929-1976.

2.Two stages: an undergraduate degree plus a master’s degree (posted 26 February 2020)

In 2020, the duration of Architecture studies in Spain continues to be a common subject of debate among students and architects.3 Up until a few years ago, a degree course took a long time to finish – much longer than the period scheduled in different universities’ syllabuses – and culminated in a thesis project that was often bedevilled with academic and logistical inconsistencies. Today, the thesis is barely a rumour, whispered about in the corridors as if it were some kind of legendary monster.4 Even so, it’s worthwhile returning to the question: Does studying architecture in Spain still mean studying twice?

The gap between the theoretical duration of syllabuses and the time actually spent on completing them now seems smaller. The days when most students took more than nine years to finish a degree have now departed. Now, however, most syllabuses are spread out over two stages: an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree. So, essentially, yes: it means “studying twice”.

This division, backed by the European Higher Education Area and the Bologna Process, was intended to homogenise architects’ training with qualifications that are more or less equivalent. Instead of introducing three-year undergraduate degrees and two-year master’s degrees, Spain chose to have five-year undergraduate degrees plus a master’s degree squeezed into one single year. The master’s degree is an enabling qualification: in other words, master’s holders will be able to apply for membership of a chartered association and engage in professional activity as an architect as soon as they receive the qualification, without having to sit a state examination, as happens, for example, in Italy.

The undergraduate degree covers much the same ground as the early years of training under the old syllabuses, together with some interesting additions like the Final Degree Project (FDP), which in many schools has become an opportunity for research into subjects proposed by the students themselves.5 Even so, it still provides the same expertise in structures, installations and building techniques which have always characterised Spanish architects, whose renowned technical skills outshine their knowledge in other fields.

Having completed the undergraduate degree, it’s time to choose a master’s. Under the old syllabus, students had to do their thesis in the same school where they did the rest of the degree. Now, it’s possible to choose. And boy do people choose! At the Granada University School of Architecture, for example, nearly a third of the master’s students did their degrees at other universities. That fact is not without its importance.

The critical points of this system lie in the interstructuring of the two programmes. The master’s degree is, after all, a revised version of the old thesis project, enhanced with support materials and more lecturers. Students continue to demand a more transparent connection with the professional world, integral training environments where they can apply the technical and theoretical knowledge they have acquired to their projects, and better advice regarding career opportunities for architects in public institutions, research centres or corporate entities.

One advantage of the new model is that the enabling master’s degree constitutes a more formalised space withing the university system than the old thesis projects used to, with more resources and more prestige.

The flexibility with which students can pass from one programme to another also stimulates competition between universities, as used to occur in the admission processes for the old degree courses.6 But then master’s students are no longer 18-year-olds. They are budding architects who know exactly what they want and who will pose a stiff challenge to whichever programme they eventually choose. Universities and schools of architecture need to be well prepared and ready to rise to the occasion.

You will also like:

Preguntas que todo estudiante de arquitectura te hará, si le das la oportunidad

Preguntas que todo estudiante de arquitectura te hará, si le das la oportunidad


Imagen de portada:Tintín: La Estrella Misteriosa. Hergé: 1952.
Text translated by Andrew V. Taylor
Notas de página
1

Competencias del arquitecto en España (Skills in architecture in Spain)

3

This post is the result of several conversations with teachers and students of architecture, including: Rafael de Lacour, Assistant Director of the enabling master’s degree at the University of Granada School of Architecture (ETSAG – UGR), and Ana María García Linares, Johana Díaz, Paula García Cerpa and Víctor Fernández, students on the master’s degree course in Architecture at Granada University.

4

Manuel Saga The bright side of the PFC, posted in the Fundación Arquia blog (September, 2017)

5

Rodrigo Almonacid: Choose Your Own Adventure: The Strange Case of FDPs in Architecture, posted in the Fundación Arquia blog (July 2019)

6

Andrea Robles: Tell me what School you’re from, and I’ll tell you what your Final Project is, posted in the Fundación Arquia blog (October 2016)

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 .

Deja un comentario

Tu correo no se va a publicar.

*

Últimos posts