Architects Will Need to Extend Designing Ability Beyond Architecture
Being able to define a new professional model for architects that fits the current economic, social and political context, which is completely different from the one we have known up to now: this is the great challenge, and also the great opportunity, that will define the future of the architectural profession and, by extension, the future of the university that trains these professionals.? This was one of the main arguments put forward by Lluís Comerón, the Dean of the Architecture Institute of Catalonia (COAC), on Wednesday, 13 March 2013, at the UIC's ESARQ School of Architecture in his talk "Where is the Profession and the University Headed"
Before an audience composed largely of students, the COAC Dean outlined a new professional model characterized by the intensification and diversification of knowledge and professional roles based on architects’ most intrinsic quality: their ability to design. “There’s a whole series of specific activities to which we can apply our training and our general ability to design and provide comprehensive solutions for complex problems, activities that are not necessarily linked to the field of construction”, argued Comerón.
Naturally, the ability to design will continue to be essential for the architect’s more traditional, construction-orientated architectural activities. However, this ability can also act as a foundation upon which new layers of specialization and professional skills can be built in order to expand beyond geographical and sector-related limitations. To this end, COAC is identifying new professional activities to which architects are highly suited. Moreover, training is being provided in these fields at the Sert School, COAC’s centre for continuing education.
For Comerón, this new professional model is nothing more than a third dimension or layer to be added to the two that already exist, namely, that of the general architect, who is able to offer a comprehensive response to any problem related to architecture or urban planning, and the more recent dimension of the professional specializing in a broad area. “We’ll carry on doing what we’re doing, while adding new strings to our bow. The university will play a key role in achieving this. Reaching a natural understanding of this fact is the best thing we can possibly do”, said the COAC Dean.
Comerón concluded his talk by offering an optimistic and convincing hypothesis. He argued that if we accept the premise that the 19th century was the time of great engineers, and the 20th century the time of both engineers and great architects, then, he said, “The 21st century could be the time of architecture if we work on it. We’re one of the best-placed professions to offer a response to the complex problems that characterize this period”.