Well 2006 is upon us and I think I might take advantage of this time off to write a very long overdue entry to my blog. As I haven't written for a while I'll start with a quick reminder for those who are not aware of what I'm up to. I'm currently undertaking a year abroad, my final year, studying at ETSAB in Barcelona. I started the semester a little concerned about the way in which they teach here but as the semester draws to a close I must admit although the styles of teaching here are somewhat traditional, I feel I have benefited enormously from what is essentially a style of education that is taken more from the point of view of the architect as engineer rather than architect as ”˜thinker'.
After two years working in London, I started my Diploma at LondonMet craving for a student project where I could design a ”˜building' that not only dealt with the theoretical challenges of urban/landscape design but also allowed us to hone our understanding of the ways in which materials go together. For me I have always been sceptical about approaches taken by certain schools that teach ”˜architecture' purely for the purpose of intellectual exercise and graphical wizardry rather than educating the common language of wood, concrete and glass. Is it a cultural problem? In Britain today it is almost unheard of for an architect under the age of thirty-five to be working on his or her own. Is that because it takes that long to gather enough consultants and clients to sustain a small practice, or is it because during our five years of university we are not taught how to actually build! Consequently no newly graduated student would have the necessary skills to begin his or her own practice let alone have the contacts to do so. And so we rely purely on our time in practice to gain experience that would prepare us to go it alone.
It seems in Spain they are more interested in training architects that understand how the profession works both from a design point of view as well as a business one. As a result there are far younger architects working independently here, well at least in Barcelona. For some I'm sure they will find it very difficult as working in Spain is tough at the best of times, financially speaking. However on the whole, the young architect here has more of the mentality of ”˜why not?' rather than ”˜I need more experience first'. The latter being quintessentially British!
So it is this that I would like to open up to you guys! I know it's a common question but it's something that divides students and tutors alike. Why do we bother with University? Shouldn't we just get out there and do it!?