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manuel saga
1

Manuel Saga: Studying architecture in Spain is studying architecture twice. Blog Fundación Arquia (January 2017)

2

Manuel Saga: A decalogue for emigrating architects. Blog Fundación Arquia (March 2015)

Validating Architecture Degrees from Latin America in Spain: Three Challenges (1/3)

Advert for the airline Avianca published in issue 162 of Colombian architecture journal Proa, November 1963.

Windows of opportunity continue to appear around the world. Despite health crises like the one we’re going though at present, globalisation marches on and sooner or later the time comes to open one of them. It happens to architects when we have to endorse a project abroad and we realise that our qualifications aren’t recognised. The path to that endorsement is the validation process. Getting a qualification validated involves fulfilling certain requirements in exchange for new benefits.

But some such paths are more desirable than others. A qualification recognised throughout the European Union, for example, can open more doors than one recognised only in one country. That’s one of the reasons why many Latin American architects are interested in getting their degrees validated in Spain. Once they cross the Atlantic, everything else seems easier. And having Spanish as a common language also helps, at least at the beginning.

However, reality is never as simple. Of the hundreds of requests for information about enabling master’s degree programmes in Spain, very few result in architects actually enrolling and obtaining professional accreditation. Why does this happen? Architects who manage to get their qualifications recognised, those who are in the process of doing so and those who decide not to go through with it all identify at least three challenges.

 

Challenge number one: Understanding the usefulness of holding a recognised qualification, and making the corresponding plans.

Here, it’s important to know that a recognised qualification is always useful, but not always necessary. It’s useful because it comes with a mark of prestige: it’s generally agreed that Spanish architects have undergone very exhaustive training with particular emphasis on technical aspects1. Obtaining authorisation to endorse projects in Spain requires more dedication than most architecture degrees in other parts of the world. Architects who want to obtain that authorisation will therefore have to go back into the classroom. In return, they’ll receive greater professional recognition – a recognition held in high esteem both in Spain and Europe and in North and South America.

But this value added doesn’t always lead to immediate opportunities to exercise the recently acquired competences. Even in Spain, architects usually combine work on projects which require recognised qualifications with other tasks that don’t. On the other hand, already qualified Latin American architects point out that their best preparation for drafting projects in Spain took place not in architecture schools but at work in their own offices. Others came over bringing with them extensive professional experience, but still had to go back to university to accredit their skills in the Spanish system.

For these reasons, it’s well worth the trouble to plan in advance exactly when one’s qualifications are to be validated, so as to obtain the greatest benefit from the effort. If a candidate has customers and projects waiting for them when they arrive, validation will be a priority, to ensure autonomy of action. Conversely, if there are no such clear-cut opportunities at the moment of arrival, it may be prudent to check out possibilities2 and start building up a network of professional contacts before going back into the classroom. Either way, the process of validation should be planned in terms of specific objectives, in line with each individual’s own process of training and business development.

 

The next article will look at challenge number two: Descubrir cómo se realiza la homologación del título.


This article is based on interviews with different architects. These include: Rafael de Lacour, subdirector of the Granada University School of Architecture (ETSA  – UGR) and coordinator of that school’s enabling Master’s Degree in Architecture; Raquel Martínez, coordinator of the undergraduate degree in Basic Architecture at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos; Johanna Díaz, a Colombian architect with a degree in Architecture from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia validated in Spain, and currently a student on the ETSA-UGR enabling master’s degree course; Olga Sánchez, a Venezuelan architect who graduated from the Universidad de Los Andes in Mérida, and whose degree in Architecture was validated by the UGR; Paz Molinari, an Argentinian architect who graduated from the Universidad de Buenos Aires and whose qualifications were validated at the Madrid Polytechnic School of Architecture (ETSA  – UPM); María Antonieta Loaiza, a Venezuelan architect who graduated from the Universidad Central de Venezuela and whose qualifications were validated at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia School of Architecture (ETSA  – UPC); and Alejandro Henríquez, a Colombian architect who graduated from the Universidad de Los Andes and has now been working professionally in Barcelona for 15 years.
Text translated by Andrew V. Taylor
Notas de página
1

Manuel Saga: Studying architecture in Spain is studying architecture twice. Blog Fundación Arquia (January 2017)

2

Manuel Saga: A decalogue for emigrating architects. Blog Fundación Arquia (March 2015)

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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