1

Antonio Fernández Alba, “Saltando las correctas normas de los epígonos,” in Cinco cuestiones de arquitectura (Madrid: Taller de Ediciones Josefina Betancor, 1974), 100.

2

Marco Biraghi, L’architetto come intellettuale (Turin: Giulio Einaudi Editore, 2019), 183-184.

The Architect as a Producer

 

Interviewed for an article in El País Semanal at the beginning of the academic year, Eva Franch i Gilabert (the new School Director at the Architectural Association) said that the AA’s challenge was “more than to train architects (…), to use architecture to train great creators and thinkers”. At the end of the year, Patrik Schumacher once again unleashed controversy by describing thirteen aspects of the general crisis affecting architectural education, which he defined as being disconnected from professional reality. According to Schumacher, the only alternative is to implement a common syllabus governed by a new paradigm: parametricism.

With the urgent need for qualified experts capable of meeting increasing demands for more buildings, the distance separating  school and profession became a traditional subject of debate in the architectural culture which powerfully re-emerged in the middle of the 20th century. That debate formed part of the broader “Two Cultures” debate over the humanistic and scientific spheres into which architectural activity was traditionally divided. Even as early as the 1970s, Antonio Fernández Alba was already addressing the issue with a certain degree of scepticism:

 “[architects] (…)partly technicians, partly artists and sociologists (…), hybrid figures so shady that nobody aware of our contemporary reality can continue to vindicate or feel nostalgia for the “mythical figure” of this strange mediator and coordinator of technologies and humanities”.1

Today, that “mythical figure” of the architect as coordinator of a vast spectrum of expertise in different fields , a figure which first emerged in the Renaissance, has now practically run its course. Architecture studios are now no longer organised exclusively according to the Junior, Senior, Associate and Partner hierarchy. A whole series of highly specialised professionals are now appearing on the scene, many of whom do not necessarily even need to have been trained as architects. These include BIM Managers, Fire Consultants, Planning Advisors, Specification Writers, Visualizers, and an almost never-ending list of other disciplines into which even the smallest of jobs is now subdivided. Indeed, it’s becoming hard to distinguish the work done in an architecture studio from the alienating environment of an assembly line. It’s therefore hardly surprising that Patrik Schumacher should want architecture schools to provide a wide range of specialisations and train the “invisible technicians” who will help him realise his parametric dreams. On the other hand, neither should we accept a view of our profession that fails to take into account these craftsmen. As Peggy Deamer points out, less defined plans don’t only mean delays, they also imply a “loss of power” by the architect.

In the face of the rapid change being experienced by architecture studios and, especially, in the output of architects, some kind of constant baseline needs to be maintained. This, as Marco Biraghi recently noted, is the architecture project: understood not merely as a series of pre-requisites which determine the building phase but, in the broadest sense of the word “project”, as a proposal for an idea or objective integrated within the city context and defined through a collective effort2.  Following Biraghi’s logic, in this approach to a project, the architect takes on the role of producer, as defined by Walter Benjamin: one who is engaged in the process of production and thereby has the capacity to change it.


Text translated by Andrew V. Taylor.
Notas de página
1

Antonio Fernández Alba, “Saltando las correctas normas de los epígonos,” in Cinco cuestiones de arquitectura (Madrid: Taller de Ediciones Josefina Betancor, 1974), 100.

2

Marco Biraghi, L’architetto come intellettuale (Turin: Giulio Einaudi Editore, 2019), 183-184.

Autor:
Arquitecto, vive y trabaja en Londres. Doctor por la ETSAUN (Pamplona), MA en History & Critical Thinking por la Architectural Association School of Architecture (Londres). María ha participado en distintas conferencias internacionales y ha sido también profesor ayudante de la ETSAUN, “Visiting Lecturer” en la School of Creative Arts de la Universidad de Hertfordshire (Hatfield, RU) y crítico invitado en la Architectural Association (Londres, RU).

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