INTERVIEWS TO TEACHERS
ESCOLA TÈCNICA SUPERIOR D’ARQUITECTURA DE BARCELONA, (ETSAB) UPC
ESCOLA SUPERIOR D’ARQUITECTURA DEL VALLÈS, (ETSAV) UPC
ESCOLA D’ARQUITECTURA LA SALLE (ETSALS)
Question 1: What would you change in the teaching of architecture in your school?
Carlos Alonso (ETSAB): I would recover the system based on annual courses instead of semesters. The semesters, in our university, don’t offer the advantage of having two enrollments each year and therefore, the student doesn’t have the flexibility they should give and, what is more important, the students have a shorter time to absorb the knowledge given by the teachers.
Helena Coch (ETSAB/ETSAV): In my opinion, one of the important things I would change about the teaching in this school is the ratio teachers-students. The amount of teachers is not enough to cover the number of students of architecture in our school. The consequence is a lower performance from the teachers that are overwhelmed by the work and cannot create a convenient classroom environment. Besides, the high number of students also lowers the participation in class as well as the dialog between teacher and student, a crucial component for students to understand and absorb the concepts properly.
Judit López (ETSAB): I would incorporate a closer relation to the professional practice. During the university studies in this school there are a lot of parts of the real job of an architect that are not explained or even commented at all, and I think that should be improved. One clear example is that students don’t usually go to construction site, which, in my opinion, would be really positive for their formation and development.
Anna Pagès (ETSAB/ETSAV): I would say that the ratio of students – teachers would be a crucial point to improve. The elevated number of students in a class is a negative point for achieving good teaching , therefore, either the number of students should be reduced or the number of teachers should increase to balance this ratio.
Roman Sarrió (Assistant Professor ETSALS): It would be great to have more students, this would enable the school to have more programs and therefore be able to offer a wider range of approaches to architecture. I believe students should find their path through school and make choices so they should be offered a rich palette from which to do so.
John Dutton (USC/ETSALS): I would emphasize the urban context and form in the first years instead of just focusing on the design of the object. This would help students understand that they are never designing in isolation but always part of a built context, no matter if such a context is legible (like Barcelona) or seemingly illegible (like Los Angeles).
Roger Paez (ETSALS): Anything that would contribute to promoting meritocracy and student involvement. Particularly, I think that in the case of Design Studios both professors and students should be able to choose one or the other, at least to a certain extent. One way to achieve this would be to present topic studios publicly and allow students to choose their own career paths. I would also encourage experimental educational formats coupled with high performance expectations for both students and professors. Most important of all, I would argue that Architectural Studies should be formative rather than narrowly informative.
Estanislau Roca (ETSAB): In my opinion, it would be important to place more significance in the education of the student for his/her gain of the right skills and abilities that will make it possible to go on after finishing the degree. An aspect that would help to achieve that would be the specialisation of the student. Specialisation is a very positive aspect in an architects career nowadays because it alows them to be the expert in a field. Being an expert means that you are requested to participate in several project due to this expertise, which is valued. Specialisation could be applied by differentating several field during the last courses of the degree. In this way the student could choose one of the fields and become an expert before finishing the degree.
Another important issue in the improvement of the school organisation would be the introduction of competitions where teachers and students worked together. In this way the expertise of the first ones could be combined with the freshness and new ideas of the students, with very interesting pojects as a result. The participation in real competitins would also give the opportunity to students to have a nice cv before finishing the desgree and the teacher’s participation would also help to achieve more in an earlier time of their career.
Question 2: Are students important in the progress of architecture?
Carlos Alonso: Essential
Helena Coch: Fundamental, students are the most important aspect in the progress of architecture. The students we produce today will be the architects of tomorrow.
Judit López (ETSAB): Clearly yes. The projects of the student have always been a source of inspiration for teachers and architects in general.
Anna Pagès (ETSAB/ETSAV): Yes, for sure
Roman Sarrió (Assistant Professor ETSALS): Yes, we all are and should always be students.
John Dutton (USC/BCN): Students are particularly important in creating active dialogue within the school and the profession. Students should be the ones who are the most critical, probing, questioning, enthusiastic, and engaged group of people in architecture. Being a student is all about asking questions and exploring. This active dialogue will effect the school and the larger architecture community. It will also make students more likely to become good architects, engaged and committed in their communities, instead of just great detailers or grasshopper scripters.
Roger Paez (ETSALS): If universities are the oxygen and professors hopefully are the spark, students are the fuel; without them, there would be no progress in education.
Estanislau Roca (ETSAB): Essential!. The innovation has to come from the freshness of students. In fact, the presence of new ideas coming from the youngest ones is determining for the future of society.