Un as en la manga

No quería dejar sin publicar el texto de la intervención que tuve oportunidad de ofrecer en  el Congreso que la AIA  (American Institute of Architects) ha realizado en Sevilla. En breve lo publicaré en español con la presentación que lo acompañaba

An ace in the hole

First of all, thanks. For the invitation, for providing me this opportunity to express what I feel. So I assumed this invitation and I hope to show myself in these minutes that you offer, from the feeling.

I suppose if you came to Spain, if you have done so many miles and so much effort, it is because you hope to see the ace that the Spanish architects we take in the sleeve. What is the play that sets us apart. Thinking about our famous writer, Calderón de la Barca: “life is a dream, and dreams are dreams.” I’ll make a small change, and use it in the following sense: “architecture is a game, and games, games are”.

If you seek differences, let me show you the difference between your deck and ours. Your usual deck is spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs, the Spanish deck have these suits:  globets, swords, wooden suit  and gold coins. More real truth? In the society of the time the clubs had some meaning. The bourgeoisie (rich) were the gold coins, the clergy were the cups (with the chalice), swords were the army and the people were the wooden club (poor people close to nature and grow crops).

I would like to see some parallels between these “suits” of our deck and some important aspects of Spanish architect. The first is academic training. Formed by four pillars:

  • Humanistic Education: represent  whit the globets. The good living, culture, history … of wine and life in Spain, here we have a lot, I assure you.
  • Technology Education: swords. Always with great innovation: Rigid, complicated, scientific, sharp …
  • Legal Education: wooden suits represents well. Our Napoleonic system does not makes things any easier around here.
  • Proyects Education: represent the gold coins, it is the star of our syllabus and the tool where everything else is based.

In Spain, and this is important, only who have these four pillars can be an architect, and can exercise this profession. With one of the most expensive liability insurance, more than doctors or politicians (considering that these last job have some responsibility in our country).

Another similarity is the responsibility of the Spanish architects on our work:

  • The economic responsibilities: money = gold, right?
  • The legal responsibilities: are many and varied. From planning to construction.
  • The technical responsibilities: swords again. We perform our work and the equivalent of a civil engineer. For the same price. Don´t forget this.
  • The social responsibilities: and these are perhaps the globets. We have to give importance to the culture of each and every place where we project, even when the place themselves not receive this added value with much pleasure.

Well, and how, from these cards that gives us our training and our responsibility, we approach our work? Personally, Nothing done so far attracts me. Nothing teaches more than the justification of a good hand or a fluke. Here, some examples of my job:

  • Ibros, industrial park card: mix of industrial, commercial and recreational areas
  • Famalicao geriatric center. We are working on it. A special place for special people
  • Zahara, private summer housing: example of use of natural resources in the home
  • Ciudad Real, sports center: outside, inside, outside again
  • The chest blown, Laguna de los Cisnes, Uruguay. luxury housing proposal
  • Reform school, Guarda. dedicated project for the Portuguese government

Honestly, for me, the game just simply continues. I think it is time not only to schuffle the cards again, also to consider the rules of the game. Well, to express this idea, I’ll make a few games with this deck:

What are the rules now?. Really We are piling up many cards of  each pillars I showed you before. Today, is called “specialization.” It is a bet that this global world increasingly advises us, to fit in the specialized contemporary society: leave the technical work to the engineering, economic tasks for financial institutions, legal work to lawyers and if you ask me, the humanistic works to critics who are already responsible for clothing the result with a beautiful speech (whether this exists or not).

But, what do we find then? Found in most cases results that are far from the reality in which it sits. Proposals that require technological skill that does not exist in the Spanish production network. Born behind our legal and urban system, imposing unwanted solutions. And the megalomaniac proposal simply falls.

I see the projects and their castles in my own way. I think any project is complex and unstable in itself. It´s possible to present a project with a minimum fulfillment with legal requirements and economic order. It is valid, but I don’t think any of the attendees is of this condition. We tend to increase the tension a degree, to be honest with our profession and our jobs, and leave the imprint of an entire training and responsibility. From all viewpoints. Although is difficult in these times. But still, we continue. One more step. That would involve the satisfaction of our customers keeping our beliefs.

Getting here in most cases it is almost impossible. Manage training, serenity, maturity, patience needed to build this castle over and over. For me this is the beginning of my real goal. Architect’s commitment to society and territory, representing the real castle, Architecture, written in capital letters. Assuming the terrible burden that is knowing the volatility of their effort. The no immediate recognition of his success. The constant clash against laws and client that supports. Assuming the inevitable fall of all that effort to carry a job at this point, because only from the ground can reassemble our castle to the following project. And meanwhile the society is not aware of this need. While not penalize those who destroy, while not counted territorial deterioration as currency … the effort will be useless. I know. And never will complete this castle.

What choice do we have then? What are our chances as architects? Spanish and all those who believe in the uniqueness of each project, In each realization. Without the concepts of immediacy and profit raze. With the real responsibility of managing a culture, a time and a specific territory. What choice do we have?

The only choice left is … the impossible: Place cards in the air. Wherever we allow, being the game it is, while the players sitting at the table … and play. Play with the cards of this beautiful profession, and with the hand that the reality of each assignment requires us to play. But playing.

To say goodbye, an expression of a great movie, Leolo, director Jean-Claude Lauzon, “because I dream, I know I’m not crazy” … because I play, I know I’m not. Good luck in your games. Thanks

2 pensamientos en “Un as en la manga

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