What Would the Architects Have to Know?

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“The students neither read nor know how to read. Maybe, at best, they browse magazines. And that is something dramatic. Every year I do a kind of survey on the first day of class. It is not a test: students can talk to each other and do not have to sign. It’s essentially about knowing what I’m up against. But the real objective is for them to be aware of their shortcomings. “

What do architects know? And his teachers? Ignacio Vicens, who did three law courses before discovering, helping a friend prepare a delivery at night, that his was architecture, ensures that the lack of a humanistic education takes its toll on the architects of the future.

Vicens has, certainly, a training beyond the technique. Not only by age, especially by concern. It was the passion, which linked creativity with nocturnality, that led him to study architecture. He tells it in an interview with Pablo Beltrán with which he starts his book of writings and ideas Said and done (Nobuko, 2012), which, curiously, changes the dilemma by the conjunctive of the title that Oriol Bohigas used for his memoirs (Dito or fet ). In Vicens, the decision to study architecture came with energy, but it required the effort to catch up. Someone who had opted for the pure letters had to divide their time between the school and the mathematics and drawing academies to be able to continue their studies.

What Vicens demonstrates in his writings is that the pure letters are noticed. But, on top of that, he makes a wish clear: he would like to transmit his own passion to his students. And that is difficult. The passions are private. And it costs a lot of effort, a lot of closeness and an important part of chance to get to transmit them.

“His humanistic education is almost nil. But much worse is that they lack the basic intellectual tools to face their own lives, “Vicens continues. Talk about the students. And it is clear that he knows well that no one leaves a faculty, or school, formed. Training requires testing, putting oneself to the test. Opinions can only be defended when they are their own. He was made clear by his teacher Javier Carvajal: “only what is known is taught”. Can be. But surely Vicens does not miss that to believe that you know is a classic way to stop knowing. That the relativity of certainties, and of uncertainties, is not a refuge for lazy people depends on the work of a good teacher.

What Ignacio Vicens would like to convey to his students is criteria, ability to decide. He says that the criterion comes from training. Training is experience, learning, exposure and reflection. But where do students get the experience today? Probably new sources. It is true that the old ones should not be ruled out. It is evident that the trip to Rome is an eternal spring, but the trip to Rome of a 20-year-old type can not be the same today as forty years ago. Rome itself is not the same. And those changes are life. Architects Reading can also be the way to your destination.

Thus, as history accumulates layers (and many have accumulated in the twentieth century), who tries to look and think has more to entertain and more to compare to decide. It is true that, in the end, we all remember three teachers and what we thank them for is always the same: their enthusiasm. Sometimes quiet, badly spoken, drinkers, unpunctual or cranky, the circumstance is lost almost as much as teaching. What good teachers teach is to doubt. A sermon only spreads fear, never enthusiasm. And it is against fear, ignorance and hatred (“the great enemies of the progress of humanity”) against which Vicens warns. Convinced that the adventure of man is that of creativity and, knowing that there is no learning without joy, Vicens calls to use leisure as an active principle. It’s about learning from what interests us the most.

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