Fights, criticizes, emigrates | Borja Lopez Cotelo

The crisis has ended. The politicians smile again in the newspapers and the means ensalzan a country that could support the composure for five years of impious tempest. They have turned the pats in the back.

But maybe the miracle has happened before my door, once again, without stopping: the clients do not crowd in my study and nobody in my immediate environment has seen to improve suddenly his labor situation. On the contrary, in many cases, to develop the profession for the one that one has formed continues sounding to chimera. There is enclosed the one who finds this aspiration obscene, own of young women reticent to the hands get dirty, when not of capricious, vague or malevolent.

Meanwhile, many of those who now smile in the newspapers boasting of the economic recovery they continue visiting often the courts; so that this new miracle will not make me leave my skepticism either.

This way the things, it is inevitable to wonder what to do. What way a young architect must take – every day a bit less – seated in a peripheral region of a marginal country inside the great project paneuropeo, when the celebrated catharsis seems to be foreign to his daily reality.


Roberto Bolaño was of those who believed, according to him itself he was confessing, that the human being is condemned in advance to the defeat but that it must go out and give it her fights. I consider nevertheless – without intention of contradicting the great Bolaño – that is necessary to specify certain things because, for the architect, to fight not always is simple.

Let’s assume that the architecture, as profession and as discipline, is necessarily half-full. There is a long span from the conception of the work, abstract, and his concretion actually physical; there are many hands that intervene in the process, many laws – complete, different delirious or interested some – that determine it, there is a user often foreign to the brainy ponderings of the designer, and an obstinate reality that often pledges in disfiguring the Apollonian imagined architecture. They are, all of them, you rule of the game.

Now then, to construct – that one is, let’s not forget it, the last end and raison d’être of the architecture – is not simple alone when they are known two ways to come to it and both are sowed with mines.

Always I thought that the contests of architecture were one of these ways; that in them they all were fighting of equally to equally, without gloves and to disclosed face. He was imagining the big architects lowering to the sand as the insolent Cómodo, as a hooded Zidane edicated to night duels in fields of neighborhood against gangs of Algerian immigrants1. The time me demonstrated that it is not like that. Some contests resort to questionable mechanisms (as assumed company and work) or even perverse. In other cases simply the failure is slightly transparent or inevitably suspicious; and the suspicion, indicates the Jew Jacobi, torments those that her shelter2.

Another way to construct are the private orders. And in this way companions of profession have been putting the stones, day after day. This does it, if it fits, more painful. The fees have diminished and the conditions have degenerated in a fratricidal fight for clients obtained. Without rules, without ethics, without a sense of group that has made other professions strong.

For all this, to fight for constructing is today a war of attrition; a campaign enraged for that there show both the structural desigualdades – contests – and the lowest instincts of clients’ survival – search-, that in occasions derive in cannibalism. There will be necessary to read again to Bolaño, poet and vagabond3, not to get weak.


As Plato gathers in his Dialogs, Sócrates – the Greek4– thought with some of his disciples it brings over of the immortality of the soul in the instants previous to consume with an admirable meekness and a tranquility the hemlock that would finish with his life. In this last moment, Sócrates clairvoyant was meant like more and complete of the men.

Nevertheless, in the agonizing current circumstance the architectural critique does not seem to have given a step to the front either. Though the situation is propitious for the calmness and the pause, base necessary for deep reflections that he identifies committed mistakes and extract lucid conclusions for the future, little fresh air the critics seem to have reached during this period of wastage in the activity.

They are, certainly, them of always. There are in Spain clear minds, with an enormous capacity of analysis and big endowments for the synthesis. But none of that I know it has been generated by the current situation, none represents a long-lived hope for the near generations.

But unfortunately they are a majority those who use powerful loudspeakers to adapt his speech to the dominant wind. And they have survived the crisis. We read publishing houses of whom it does not make many ensalzaban the big studies, of whom was cheering the vigorous cadets of star system-think BIG, they were exhorting – defending today an architecture of minimums, a necessary architecture (polyhedric adjective); architects elevate or – providing that that is possible – collective whose labor develops far from the first world. Even congresses are celebrated to celebrate the discovery of this new way.

It turns out difficult to understand for what only a negligible part of the critique has reacted to this apology of the vacuity.

Criticizes | epR


Probably the advice more appellant in these days is of giving up to the search of new horizons. In the end, this way it there did our grandparents and others before that they. We know it especially who we were born in certain parts of the world: there assumes to the teacher Castelao the maxim about which the Galician does not protest, emigrates.

The emigration is understandable as personal option. Maybe today be even advisable, or openly admirably, since few ones take this decision as an own will. But we must not see in it the solution to the collective males since it would be one it bandages in our eyes. A country that loses his young women of massive form is drained; a condition that he invests in formation to prove to be then unable to consolidate a professional fabric sustained by this human capital, not only represents a paradox but an absolute economic and social failure.

For a Spanish architect – at least less for one formed in certain schools of Spain – there exists in addition a particularity that does not facilitate his labor insertion: during generations, the education of the architect tended to enable self-sufficient professionals. This has, obviously, positive implications – capacity of control on the global project, solid technical knowledge – but it is necessary to ask if the survival of these tiny studies is possible in the current scene. Even when these studies, in a luck of metamorphosis, develop often into horizontal structures and collaborative processes.

We traverse the risk of suffering this sensation of chill indifference of the reality personified in that Meursault that was foreign in Algiers like it it would have been in any other part5.

Emigrates | epR

But in spite of the grey that surrounds us, in spite of the inability to fight in equality, of the lukewarm response of the critique and of the uncertain route of the emigration, this generation has not to come to terms still. Because, let’s let’s want or not, still we still have nice things for doing6.

Borja López Cotelo, doctor architect

Coruña, july 2014


1 As Zidane recognizes in an interview published in the number 22 of the magazine Panenka. Though in her it indicates as instigador Edgar Davis …

2 Paraphrasing Isak Jacobi, the usurer of Bergman’s work Fanny and Alexander (1982).

3 This way it was saying his business card: Roberto Bolaño, poeta y vago. Carrer Ample n13 2-1, Blanes (Gerona).

4 Sócrates (470-399 a.C) was condemned to die thus by an Athenian court. It is important to add that I refer to this Sócrates, the Greek, because also an eloquent Brazilian Sócrates existed.

5 El extranjero, by Albert Camus, is a therapeutic book in certain moments. If I have to choose an edition I recommend that of Gallimard, illustrated by the great Jose Muñoz, who in Spain published Publishing Alliance (2013).

6 Jep Gambardella, Cynical protagonist of La gran belleza, nswers relieved: Meno male… Ci rimane ancora qualcosa di bello da fare! when a friend him remembers that they have never done the love.

Borja López Cotelo

Borja López Cotelo, arquitecto por la ETSAC desde 2007, y doctor por la UdC desde 2013.

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