Mientras que mi web professional muestra las obras de mi despacho como arquitecto, este blog recopila documentación sobre una serie de actividades que desarrollo en paralelo a él. El ejercicio internacional de la profesión, las entidades entorno a las que se organizan los arquitectos o la reflexión sobre los modos de intervención en la ciudad constituyen los principales puntos de atención, al tiempo que se facilita el acceso a una serie de enlaces relacionados.

architectural flight over tokyo

Take a ride on a zeppelin, 600 meters above the city of Tokyo, and discover its architectural landmarks, from Harumi Harbour all the way to Yokohama.

changes in the architectural profession

I had the opportunity to make the opening lecture at a recent congress of architects in Turkey under the title “Changes in the architectural profession” and decided to concentrate on two specific aspects of the relation between Education and Professional Practice. These two issues were Internship and Continuing Professional Development as they seem key to me in ensuring that our profession can cope with the changes that currently happen at all levels.

It is often considered that the graduates from our universities are not necessarily prepared to get into the daily practice of the profession. In many cases, this gap is filled by some internship period or a complimentary exam by an authority different to the academic, before being allowed to get into practice. While this is quite frequent in countries governed by common law, it is not often the case in those where the Napoleonic code is the base for their regulations.

Similarly to the above, there seems to be a consensus on identifying Continuing Professional Development (some times referred as Life Long Learning) as the only means to guarantee that architects can cope with the changes that happen along their professional life and maintain their abilities up to date.

Surprisingly, internship is only compulsory in 49 countries around the world (see the Architectural Practice around the World research in a previous post of this blog) and only in 35 of them it is structured and supervised. Similarly, only 58 countries have put in place some Continuing Professional Development system, which is compulsory in just 16 of them.

These two issues will undoubtedly need to evolve in the coming years. There will be an increasing demand to better structure and define them, making Internship and Continuing Professional Development progressively sophisticated and maintaining some kind of a logbook that keeps record of the progress made. At a certain point, compulsoriness will also come into the discussion in those countries where they are not yet so, as a prerequisite for practice and as evidence to the registering authorities that the required training has been completed before accessing the profession or while being into practice.

Click here for the English version of the abstract.
Click here for the Turkish version of the abstract.

l’aquila, a ghost town

One year after the earthquake, L’Aquila, 120 km out of Rome, is a ghost town. With over 15.000 people still leaving in hotels and the army patrolling the streets, this beautiful historical city in central Italy strives to recover from the disaster.

While some new anti-seismic neighbourhoods have been created in the surrounding hills, the central part of the city –its huge historical core- is still “red zone”, where visitors are not allowed and big efforts are deployed to stabilize the centuries old buildings. A meeting of the International Union of Architects has given to some of us the opportunity to visit the “forbidden area” and get first hand information on the works that currently take place.

Securing structures is a priority and most efforts are devoted to that. Technologies used depend on the damage suffered and the characteristics of the building. Adding a temporary roof to the affected churches and “palazzi” becomes a must in order to avoid further damages by rain. As the area keeps experiencing minor seismic movements while works take place, it is important to ensure that any solution adopted is flexible enough to absorb these movements.

Meanwhile, a team of volunteer architects document the buildings in order that, at a later stage, they can either be rebuilt to their original shape or, at least, keep the memory of how they were.

Nobody knows how long all this will take. Nobody knows either what the total cost will be. Italy has been often affected by earthquakes. Some of the Italian cities, as we know them now, are, in fact, the result of a reconstruction after a previous disaster. But the magnitude of this operation in L’Aquila is probably bigger than any previous one. And what is more important, nowadays, in Europe, the idea of simply demolishing what was left and build a new town (as it was often the case one or two centuries ago) is not acceptable anymore.

The issue becomes of the highest relevance for all those of us who are interested in urban problems, as it confronts us with the need to deploy new tools and strategies to face big scale interventions in historical contexts. The impact of these interventions goes beyond the buildings themselves and forces us to reflect on the kind of city that will come out the day works will reach substantial progress.