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#PECA: For a Law Governing All Types of Architecture

Architecture and the architect’s profession are today facing a huge challenge: they need to stop being seen as a problem and start being seen as a solution. Spain’s new Law of Architecture and Quality in the Built Environment may be just the instrument to reverse this situation.

But to do that, architecture needs to be vindicated and showcased as a tool of social transformation at the service of society.

We need to change the all-encompassing conceptual notion of “Architecture with a capital A” to one of “architectures with a small ‘a’”, a plural term which recognises all the different facets of our profession’s diverse, complex, ever-changing reality.

In our opinion, therefore, it’s vital that the new law should address the following issues currently being raised by today’s new professional and disciplinary realities:

 

  1. The quality of the built environment affects the quality of life of the people who live in it. And for that to happen, it’s necessary to fight against inequality and improve vulnerability indices while also improving the ambient, social and economic conditions of the built environment and its inhabitants, to create more habitable, healthier, more inclusive environments
  2. Management of the complexity of the built environment. It’s necessary to work with contexts and with pre-existing realities, which must be analysed in all their magnitude: that’s to say, from a holistic, integrational perspective, incorporating the viewpoints of other disciplines. We can’t improve something if we don’t evaluate it first. We have to be sufficiently rigorous to be able to identify problems and propose a creative leap forward, “thinking outside the box” in a way other professions are unable to.
  3. We don’t have all the answers: we need to build bridges and collaborate with other disciplines and fields of expertise, above all listening to those who inhabit architecture and the built environment.
  4. Changing the role played by the architect, from creative genius to facilitator of processes involving different actors and interests. In the city context, this is what we now call urban negotiation. It’s a way of establishing spaces for learning and collective construction in which complaints can be turned into proposals.
  5. From object to process: understanding that in order to focus on a construction process that will make it possible to build up shared agendas and incorporate and respond to social needs we need to stop seeing the built environment as something uniform and immutable.
  6. From analysis to solution: vindication of our capacity to create and design vis-à-vis other professions which do not have such a capacity.
  7. Designing “with” and not only “for”. This means assuming the complexity of reality and using collaborative design processes to focus attention on the people who inhabit the built environment, their everyday knowledge, their needs, and their problems.
  8. Humility and empathy. Only if we approach people in this way, if we listen to them and work shoulder-to-shoulder with them, incorporating their knowledge but also bringing to bear our own expertise and experience and placing our skills at their disposal, will we be able to turn architecture into a tool of social transformation. To do so, we have to stop being locked away in our offices and get out and engage with people. Architecture needs more street work.

 

In short, for architecture to stop being seen as a problem and start being seen as a solution, we vindicate the different types of architecture that are receptive to the conditions imposed by reality and which place people and Nature at the heart of the creative process. That way, it’s possible for us to recover the social value of our profession and highlight its role as a tool for collectively transforming and improving our surroundings.


Text translated by Andrew V. Taylor
Autor:
Paisaje Transversal es una oficina de Planificación Urbana Integral que ofrece asesoría y consultoría en la transformación de las ciudades y los territorios desde una perspectiva innovadora, integral y participativa. Desde el inicio de nuestra andadura profesional a finales de 2011 hemos desarrollado más de 100 proyectos repartidos entre España, Europa y Latinoamérica.

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