COMMUNICATION TO THE CONGRESS OF ARCHITECTS OF SPAIN
REPORT FROM ARQUIA/NEXT CURATOR
PROPOSAL FOR COMMUNICATION TO THE CONGRESS OF ARCHITECTS OF SPAIN 2009
by Marta Cervelló
Board member at Caja de Arquitectos, S. Coop. de Crédito
c. Arcs nº 1, 08002 Barcelona
The beginnings of the professional development of architects in Spain
SUMMARY (Maximum 12 lines)
A series of linked activities, related to the Scholarships for Students -and recently graduated Architects-, Student surveys (the last one drafted in 2008), thesis publications -very often of texts by young professionals-, and the recently held Arquia-Next forum have provided us with a lot of information on the beginnings of the professional development of architects in Spain.
COMMUNICATION (Maximum 1,200 words)
A series of linked activities, related to the Scholarships for Students -and recently graduated Architects-, Student surveys (the last one drafted in 2008), thesis publications -very often of texts by young professionals-, and the recently held Arquia-Next forum have provided us with a lot of information on the beginnings of the professional development of architects in Spain. As a summary, the main features extracted from this information are set out below.
Arquia-Next collected in its first call a database of nearly 1000 'works' made by young architects from all over Spain over a year, tracked by a project prepared by its activator Felix Arranz and grouped in a digital platform. The term 'work' has brought about an open and wide dimension that covers any architect's professional production. The sample collected from this first Forum was not intended to be the only representative sample of the entirety of Spanish youth, but to convey a version of their concerns and interests. Arquia-Next's goal has been to help people by providing a platform to socialise and share their work.
It has also served to configure a sample of the state of the young architects' profession. Using the aggregated data from Arquia-Next and the 2008 Architecture Student Survey, it is possible to confirm or assess the conclusions from both studies about who makes up the group, what their interests are, and the tendencies of younger professionals. For the around 20,000 young architects there must be living in Spain, there are still some questions pending: What would be the appropriate training courses/apprenticeships and duration? Are the career paths chosen out of 'vocational' interest or to resolve a livelihood system? Does society regulate the supply and demand of architects in their different specialities equally?
A first important remark refers to the term 'young': although traditionally people under 40 years of age are considered young, nowadays it is more appropriate to use the term 'young' for those who have been in the profession for less than 10 years: this new definition allows for more cross-sectional and contemporary education paths, understanding the importance of the time that elapses between the end of formal academic education and the student's subsequent personal development, including postgraduate education or internships. We think it is appropriate to expressively focus on this period where the real professional career of the architect begins and the paths to the future are established.
As for the definition of the group, the greatest difference between youngsters and other generations lies in the influence and information sources. A few decades ago there were teachers whose studies and classes dictated a framework for the evolution of architectural culture; nowadays, global trends follow other systems, which are wider, ultra-fast, more generalised, arranged in a matrix, highly internationalised, and only explainable by those who try. Probably for this reason, as far as cultural and geographical diversity is concerned, it is difficult to distinguish/differentiate among the works of young Spanish architects, as they are equally different, whatever their location.
A certain equality between has been established between the percentage of male and female architects. Women, most of them in the classroom, take part in the profession like men in the initial stages of professional development, as 'young people'. However, it would perhaps be useful to check the degree of permanence and continuity throughout their professional career, since it is often difficult to reconcile family and work. This usually leads them to give up their career and hinders their return to the work field.
In relation to the professional development interests of the group, it can be concluded that the majority of young architects try to practice as liberal profession architects, associates or alone, and above all they focus on developing building or landscape projects. Most of them think that it is necessary/interesting to partake in architecture internships with studios, either Spanish or foreign, especially to make up for deficiencies in their university courses, before embarking on their own individual path. Through open-style education, they get jobs just like their elders: by participating in contests, fostering relationships, and strengthening personal promotion. The works developed during this initial period are often important and complex, and possess undeniable architectural quality. The time needed to 'meet their professional expectations'* corresponds to 5-6 years of profession.
Although Arquia-Next has not been able to list examples of all related professions (for example, it is difficult to include public or private advisers or teachers/professors, etc.), this recent student survey does include other possible professions: although less desired than liberal activity, being a teacher/professor or a salaried or civil servant are possibilities recognised by some young architects. There seems, however, to be little inclination towards more scientific fields, dedicated to the research and development of new materials, for example. On the other hand, paths close to industrial design, interior design, or graphic design are positively recognised in these stages of professional consolidation. The Architectural Thesis Contest held every two years by the Arquia Foundation also reveals a greater tendency towards texts on History and Criticism than towards more technical fields.
It is difficult to pinpoint a clear tendency towards the internationalisation of their work when analysing Spanish architects, although they do have a tendency towards doing internships abroad: perhaps they find sufficient supply and field of development in their immediate environment or they are aware it is more difficult to cross borders than to obtain benefits.
It can be concluded from the reports drafted by the Arquia Foundation that young architects mostly want to dedicate themselves to being a classical liberal architect, alone or as associates, from their incidence of active participation in the new networked, multidisciplinary and egalitarian environments. They are concerned about the social connection of architecture and its commitment to the environment. Perhaps precisely because of this, young architects say they do not want to be 'famous' and understand the need for professional formulas for collaboration.
Young Spanish architects have shown themselves to be well prepared, to know how to assume their responsibilities and be pragmatic, all while offering high-quality work.
*(according to Iribas)
by Félix Arranz
Biennial Commissioner 2006-2007 of the 'arquia-next' project
From my perspective, which I have tried to reflect in the article 'Origins and disagreements' (*), the arquia-next project by the Arquia Foundation represents, by facilitating the 'Open Registry of Principles', a quantitatively enormous and colossal step towards the ratification of a personal suspicion: the replacement of the critical press, let's say Gutenberg, based on the periodic distribution of individual opinions of authorities by means of alternative documentary methodologies, wiki, wam or scalae. net, based on the permanent and exhaustive but discriminated sample of personal and professional principles on understandable, comparable, and non-intermediate structures. In other words: in my opinion and intention, arquia/next is committed in its format to structured and sustained debate in direct talks by the active players rather than to the critical view of expert, authorised, unique..., foreign voices. In a way, seen in this way, this report, in my capacity as curator, is a contradiction that I have to necessarily assume.
The real and practical culmination of the theoretical basis that underpins the existence of the 'open registry' of arquia/next could be experienced in the form of the debate that publicly began in the auditorium of the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia on the occasion of the Forum in which, for three days last October, the QF scholarship holders (architecture students and/or recent graduates who have been awarded scholarships to join prominent Spanish and international professional firms for six months) and the 'next' (authors of the 28 projects selected(**) representing the work of Spanish architects who are in their early stages, within the first ten years as professionals and as representatives of the authors of the nearly 800 projects included in the open registry). Three days in which, literally, a generation of Spanish architects, the next generation, its members, exchanged stamps from their personal collections and in doing so memorizing the names of authors and works: the 128 works censused in the precise catalogue-album of arquia/next, thanks to a diabolic 'trick' conceived by the, in fact, 'next' of the zulo_ark group.
In this debate, which took off quickly due to the capability of its participants and the fact that it persists and finds a way to survive day after day in the blogs, in the virtual communities and in the videos and podcasts shared on the Internet, it becomes clear—from the interventions of the 'next' and the 'scholars', and with the excuse of the collective invention of the 'next school of Spanish architecture'—what are some of the characteristics and aspirations of the next generation. It should be noted that the distance in intentions, as well as the reading of the reality of the new generation, is vertiginous in the eyes of people and professionals accustomed to the rhetoric inherited and learned in the until very recently valid curricula of the schools of architecture and in the convalescent system of professional incorporation of the associations of architects. I will be more direct: the new generation feels detached from what they have learned at school and from the offering of professional associations, since both are very far from the reality they live in and understand and, consequently, they are little less than useless, sterile inheritances. They don't even criticize them, they are useless to them as they are today, and they feel that they may never be useful again. I identify three 'threads' in the debate, complex and shared in conversation, all of which point to the need for a resynchronization with reality:
In their words, against the odds and with the ratification of their achievements, the 'next' ones argue for a reconsideration and preference of the material over the rhetorical, in a practical sense that, to give an image, 'prefers to build without a project rather than project without building'. One evidence of this is the awarding, by open vote, of the 'Opinion Award' for the painter Damià Jaume in Mallorca, by Francisco Cifuentes. Take a look at the Mallorcan non-project and work, and identify what is a beautiful first generation flag. The careful conclusions of the sociologist Iribas on the survey carried out on the teams catalogued in arquia/next and the intimate motivations of those who are starting out today are also useful.
Technology, IT and communication resources, ICTS, which are fascinating for those who are 'outsiders', are the usual, every day and natural thing for those who are next—who were born in it and are 'native'—to the extent that they have initiated a critical phase in the relationship with gadgets and software, being able to distinguish and discriminate electronic work and leisure resources from consumer electronics and uselessware. Possibly due to the apparent pressure of the "need to build on what is built" in a mental and material recycling process that sees intelligently and goes beyond industrial and socially correct gadgets, those next in line could collectively relate to the younger Le Corbusier, the one who held a brick in his hands for the first time checking/asserting with delight: 'well, it's heavy!' It is, no doubt, an excessive generalization to say that a good part of the next generation could be comfortable in the figuration of a hypertechnological neo-artisanship... Just saying... The work and attitude of a group such as Ecosistema Urbano, who synthesises a good part of the aspirations of the next generation, should serve as a benchmark. Both the project and work of the Eco-boulevard in Vallecas and the project and work of 2.0 web communication http://ecosistemaurbano.org are paradigmatic and constitute generational flags.
Lastly, to meet my commitment not to extend the comment too much and to limit the threads to three, and in view of the principles set out in the open registry of arquia/next, the next generation of Spanish architects seems to be comfortable renting a flat—it is not that ownership is impossible... it is simply disregarded—owned by the 'grandchildren of the 1968 generation'.
The symptoms of the 1968 grandchildren-grandparent bond are the insistence on the reformulation of reality; environmental hypersensitivity; international exchange not just as a way of establishing relationships but as a lifestyle in itself; the preference for anonymity and aliases; territorial and family uprooting and, at the same time, a strong attachment to traditional ideological systems; intellectual promiscuity and permanent group reconfiguration into communities...; but, above all, special attention to what happens individually, to the acknowledgement of the feelings and one's own well-being as the axis of the meaning of life and, within it, of architecture. The explanation that Roque Viejo offered in Valencia about his drawings-thoughts on graphic identity, for the Galician Encontros internacionais de arquitectura, and which was endorsed with the award for communication in next architecture, marvellously illustrated this vital condition and closes the main set of flags that I have been able to calibrate in the foundational curatorship of arquia/next and which I now retell.
Arquia/next puts in the hands of people interested in the principles of architects and Spanish architecture their own players and motivations, offering the possibility of a direct encounter without intermediaries. The next generation, attentive to any variation of reality, has found in its register, catalogue, stamps and forum an optimal and suitable vehicle for its particular Magical Mistery Tour and has exposed generously its achievements and thinking models.
Each person has to reconstruct the personal list of selected and awarded. It is possible. You are all invited... This is just the beginning.
(*) Félix Arranz: 'Origins and Disagreements', in various authors: arquia/next 2008, Origins and Disagreements, Madrid: Arquia Foundation, 2008.
(**) Arquia/Next has catalogued in its first edition and through the joint work of the scientific council of the curatorship formed by Emilio Tuñón, Carme Pinós, Sara de Giles, Marta Cervelló, Patxi Mangado and Félix Arranz 128 of the 760 achievements registered in the open registry on the Internet [http://www.arquia.es/proxima]. It has selected for its exhibition 28 of the catalogued works and has awarded the premio arquia/next 2008 to the work Eco-boulevard in Vallecas, by Ecosistema Urbano