Questions Every Student Will Ask You—COVID-19 Edition
So here we go again. Barely a month after going back to class and with a lot of issues still in the air. These days it’s difficult to find any certainties to hold onto, and that‘s especially true in the professional and academic fields.
That said, let’s start with the most obvious thing: NOW WHAT?
Well, “now, nowt”, as they say. Now it’s very hard to work and study. It’s not easy to give architecture classes remotely, and it’s even less easy to receive them. Actually, we could ask, “Is distance study even possible in architecture?” Maybe the fact that no distance learning universities offer degrees in architecture has its explanation… Hour-long classes by video conference? Corrections by email? I always thought that the maxim “you have to go to school, even if it’s only to stand in the corridor”, attributed to so many different architecture teachers, was true. But now, if learning becomes so solitary, I hate to imagine how many of the best things about university our students are going to miss out on.
In that respect, though, not everything will necessarily turn out badly. Thanks precisely to the situation we’re experiencing, serious consideration is now being given to the issue of face-to-face classroom learning and even to whether traditional teaching formats make any sense. Why not record all the theory classes on video and only have practical classes on campus? Is student participation really so important? How can eminently practical subjects be taught online?
Clearly, the education system needs a good overhaul. For years, many teachers have already been implementing systems very different from traditional classroom sessions. The most intelligent attitude, for both teachers and students, is probably to accept the fact that this year the time has finally come to create a new model of university education based on part-time attendance, and to realise that we are part of something historic, that we can only teach and learn if we all come to an agreement.
IS THERE NOW EVEN LESS WORK THAN BEFORE?
This perception is probably erroneous. Work exists, but almost certainly not of the kind you might have imagined in the first few years at university. Diversification in the fields of activity architects engage in is growing unceasingly. So the already wide spectrum of jobs that we do has now widened to include tasks specifically related to COVID-19. Housing, and perhaps even the definition of what exactly constitutes a minimal dwelling, needs to be rethought. We have to reconsider what we have learned so far about hospital architecture and, in general, seriously reassess how it might be possible to have a city totally subject to social distancing rules. And considering that remote working is here to stay, we find ourselves in a situation where many peripheral cities are going to become the permanent homes of people who normally only work in the large metropolises simply because that’s where their office is.
Although all this may sound great, there’s a huge “but” waiting just around the corner. It’s called uncertainty, and it’s quite logical. Nobody knows for sure what’s going to happen, and we’re all aware of the precarious situation being faced by many of our fellow citizens. Sooner or later, the effects of all these drops in consumption, tourism, and so many other things are going to be felt. The good news is that at least this time the crisis didn’t originate in our sector, and that now we’re in a position to be part of the solution.