The response is clear: we contribute the signature that supports our professional capacity.
But before let’s define a couple of terms, architect and architecture.
First we, architect, of the Latin architectus, that derives in turn from the Greek architekton, composed for archi, principally or chief and tekton, works. The architect is so the chief or master builder. According to the Royal Academy it is, simply and in a phrase, that one
“Person who practises or exercises the architecture”.
And I do again, which is over us, architecture, of the Latin aarchitectūra, defined as the
“art of planning and constructing buildings”.
This way, ado, in two consecutive phases, to plan and to construct; what turns her immediately into an act cuasi indivisible. An art, since this way he says it, composed on two parts with a purpose, to construct, but that joins to a previous phase, to project.
Louis Kahn, that so much I play gives in this of speaking about architecture, he was saying in his already famous conference in the Technical one of Milan of 1967, one of his famous judgments:
“First of all I must say that the architecture does not exist, the work of architecture exists”.
Hitherto the thing seems to be clear, let’s complicate it a bit.
In The absent structure1 Umberto Eco says to us:
“The architect will meet obliged constant to be something different to construct. It will will to turn into sociologist, politician, psychologist, anthropologist, semiótico … and the situation will not change if it does it being employed at equipment, that is to say, making work with him to all the previous professionals.
Bound to discover forms that constitute systems of exigency on which it does not have to be able; bound to articulate a language, the architecture, which always has to say something different of yes same (what does not happen in the verbal language, that to aesthetic level it can speak about his own forms; not in the painting, which can paint his own laws; and less still in the music, which only organizes syntactic internal relations to his own system), it is condemned, for the same nature of his work, to be the architect with complete certainty the only and last humanistic figure of the contemporary company; bound to think the totality precisely about the measure about that is a sectorial, specialized technician dedicated to specific operations and not to doing metaphysical declarations.”
Already in the seventies Antonio Miranda was writing the situation of the profession in the following terms:
“The complex reality and the agents’ quantity that intervene in the process of production of the architecture, and especially, the indiscriminate and massive banalización of the architectural codes for his incorporation to the market economy, have forced the majority of architects to do without his endogámica creative capacity, to turn into pieces mechanically stereotyped of the productive gear.”
Little seems to have changed.
From this point of view we are an agent necessary for the company, this one entrusts to us the ideación and construction of them, again in Kahn‘s words, institutions of the man that shape the habitat constructed of the man.
The panorama seems when less mutual dependence, but wretch or lucky the equation is not so simple and there are great the determining ones that intervene in so seemingly clear relation. A relation that is increasingly distant and more diffuse. A difficult relation in which we are thinking about departing from a position of advantage from our exclusive attribution. Probably for it it us has managed to see as a necessary evil often inconviniently.
This sensation inherited from moments spent from the profession today is not royal; the company demands today another type of more participative relation and the collective initiatives arise showing us another way of practising and understanding the profession. All this probably due to the socio-economic current circumstances, or to an evolution of the profession that there has exhausted the current model of work and our relation with him.
The apparent and inevitable absorption that our profession seems that it propitiates, due to the special nature of his art, of his practice, or a certain model of teaching that the plans of study of our schools continue applying without evolution, and to that the recent implantation of the plan Bologna I do not believe that it improves, and ojalá be wrong on the part that I touch2; it has done that we are late in admitting that certain relations have changed and that other models of action are demanded. New manners of relation with a company that advances rapid increasingly aroused socially and better educated in new needs and from which they arise, or they re-arise, new and different models of social and urban relations.
Increasingly inevitable and indispensable social networks, with his virtual relations, have not made but show and increase these relations that, of return to the street, to the reality, have crystallized all these longings in new actions.
The complex systems, and the company it is, they evolve by means of his own crises, it is in his own nature; revulsives and fills are needed, or embarrassments like that we have happened, to help to see the things otherwise. As Lampedusa was saying for mouth of the Gatopardo,
“If we want that everything continues since it is, it is necessary that everything changes”.
You activate and increasingly widespread collective actions do not stem only from the lack of orders, but they are a consequence of a new social sensibility towards the urban topics, of new uses of the city and his spaces, and of worries on the condition of our profession. And I want to think that this is not owed exclusively to the rarity of the orders but it is a fruit of a new worry it brings over of a model of profession who needs and wants to be rethought.
On the other hand the initiatives of urban character, with the rehabilitation of uses and spaces, arise as if we had realized now that the city is really ours; in that new spaces have to be inserted and to rethink the existing ones in order that they receive all these initiatives. Welcomes are all those that help to rehabilitate and regenerate both minds and spaces.
We have been actors and spectators to equal parts of an increasing vulgarization and an inexorable impoverishment of our work. We have taken part, for action or for omission, in the degradation of our conditions of work and for extension of the results of the same one. We have admitted premises inasumibles, conditions, period, fees, etc. On the part of the agents encargantes, public or private, with that difficultly it is possible to realize what we all understand that it is necessary to to be a good work of architecture. This has happened and is entradoa the force in a game in which everything has trivialized, relativized and degraded.
This banalización is the one that does not instruct to a company, and the one that makes it confuse architecture, the work of architecture about which Kahn was speaking to us, with other ends. Ultimately everything is simplified and gets confused.
We claim for all this a self-criticism of the condition of the profession.
The confusion and the unease of the current circumstances probably offer to us a good moment to restructure ourselves as group. Probably there would not come badly a bit of corporativismo healthy that us one and it us provides with a more coherent and joint voice, which it learns to transmit and connect.
We have in these moments one of the generations of better prepared, more qualified architects and with more means that never. Our architecture is example and our requested architects. It is the capital that it is not possible to waste, fail to take advantage or degrade.
Of all the crises it leaves and one is in the habit of working out reinforced, meanwhile let’s prepare the way.
Someone said that it is in the beginning when the things must remain established well. It suits to remember the beginnings of certain situations to see his path clearer, with his mistakes and successes, and see his end or the solutions for his arrangement.
As Kahn Kahn remembered
“I am charmed with the beginning. The beginning astonish me. I think that it is the beginning what confirms the continuation. I sit worship for the learning because it is a fundamental inspiration; it is not only anything that it has to see with the obligation, but it is born inside us. The will to learn, the desire to learn, is one of the most important inspirations”.
The work of architecture is a compact fact that fuses project and work. The project is a fundamental phase that does not begin with the order, with the program or with the place; it is a phase before everything that implicit ride both an attitude and a few knowledge. It begins the day in which we start looking at the things otherwise.
A project is a process and it is in what we are. A constant process of regeneration. A process so complete as complex. There are so many architectures as architects and to define the only architecture are a futile and sterile task. To speak about architecture is to enter an occupation, in a profession that is so much a way of seeing the things as a way of doing the things. It is necessary to have an ethics of the work.
A project of architecture is, inevitably, a personal process, we would say that intimate, in that they give themselves appointment all those things that with the time are acquired. Any creation is an act of intimacy, is a solitary, individual act, any act of creation, any act of comprehension it is. Any feeling is individual.
It is a question of the search of a new approximation to the architecture, and for extension of the profession, in response to the difficulties, the degradation and the manipulation of the architectural current scene. It is a question of operating to emotional level opposite to architectures that operate in the merely material field, or directly empty of content; architectures that do not say anything opposite to those in which the emotion of his creation exposes his reality. The emotion of the architecture.
Jorge Meijide . Architect
Coruña. November 2017
1 La estructura ausente. Introducción a la semiótica, Umberto Eco, 1968.
2 Five years have happened since this was written and a today I have to state that, sadly, the things in this field neither have improved they do not even have appearances of improving.
Text for the Days of the Laboratory of Ideas celebrated in the headquarters of the Architects’ College of Vigo in June, 2012, checked in November, 2017.