25 Feb

Teaching architecture in Mexico; part two. AGENCIA Editorial Team

 This second installment of the reflections made on how the discipline of architecture in Mexico is taught, an alternative is explored to achieve the improvement of the situation raised in the first installment of this article.  

Resuming a little, we caviled about the practice of combining theory with history and studying them as attached or complementary subjects but with a little association with the exercise of projection, omitting to see history as a framework of stimuli that shaped important work of their time and in turn gave back a way of inhabiting space, creating a recursive loop with the society that occupied these architectural objects, and theory as a  professional tool for speculation and awareness about decision-making by the architect with the resources and implications of his actions from pre-configuration to aging of his work. 

We reflect on the tendency of universities to maintain academic programs trapped in “clientelism” that do not adapt to the demands of a new society and are based on paradigms of the last century, strongly fostering the figure of the construction architect as the only one merit worthy, earned through a degree and economic capitalization on clients, workers, and contexts, giving the right to teachers to maintain a hegemonic teaching on student liabilities.           

This has a direct relationship with the fact that universities encourage student organizations only because of their political and intercommunication implications with institutional authorities, but not as true communities of intellectual feedback and human resources that generate an agency and eliminate passive thoughts of inability of proposal and dependency to the suggested use of infrastructure at their facilities.

Despite this and independently, students are finding ways to complement their studies in virtual and non-formal education communities through diplomas, courses and workshops that erect a tripartite scenario. 

  • In principle the use of technology as a playful resource used mainly for representation, in a way that is not universally used in the work environment, that is; the student learns the management of software for the hyper realistic representation of his projects, only to highlight postcards or virtues isolated from his designs or even (without generalizing) for deception by manipulating the spatial elements in favor of mis-perception of them, applying resources that they do not always reuse professionally and never for the creative process itself.
  • Second, students generally perceive the knowledge gained in diplomas and virtual communities, as superiors in quality to the knowledge coming from their university despite how competitive their institutions may be. Fact that is actually true, in some respects.
  • The third is the belief in the academic body that the use and development of artificial intelligence is replacing many of the activities that today operate within human responsibility and have their worth in the inscription of social ethics.

What this scenario shows is that universities’ ability to concentrate the intellectual mass of society is draining within their hands in the same way it has given them its name per se, in a "universal" way. 

Despite this, if we review the plans for international cooperation, upon which development programs and projects should be aligned, we will note that certified indicators of academic training are necessary, this has its basis in that they serve for a professional, even if he is a creative artist, technician or researcher, to possess the ability to set operational objectives and structure his ideas to expose them in writing and present them in the face of international critical debate, skills that are presumed in the academy and expressed in the production of a graduation thesis. 

We then encountered a very serious problem, since Mexican students who opt for a non-formal education, because it is of greater personal benefit to them. They are lacking the ability to align themselves with international cooperation plans, leading the country to isolation that is not entirely responsible for foreign relations policy or the use of technology to achieve those goals. 

How can we protect the universities from a context where non-institutional training could and is well used by students to obtain information that is useful to them for their interests and personal-professional gain? How to use digital technology (undisputed tool of our times) to position Mexican architects as valuable within the framework of global priorities?           

An alternative is proposed here: To utilize digital technology to empower the student community by capitalizing on it as an intellectual human resource deposited in the universities.           

The thought arises: "digital technology is already part of learning programs", it is served as technical training on the management of software interfaces  that help to accelerate and control the processes of building architectural objects. However, many of these softwares within an international framework are obsolete, and those that do not work merely for this purpose are learned as already mentioned, independently by students supporting an academic a sub-market. In addition, having no application in professional world, these design programs end up being considered as an exclusive recreational activity for young digital enthusiasts within the academic environment.

In response, other softwares whose purpose is not to facilitate executive projects may be adopted, to enrich the students’ the capabilities of speculation and creativity, to distribute knowledge beyond traditional practice and to focus on the unexplored possibilities and subsequently “land” the proposals in innovative compositions. Potentialize the design with software suitable for this and eventually democratize them by eradicating the perception that the design cannot be made on the hardware.            

Once the student has the ability to design and work on these interfaces, incentivize them to generate proposals for the combined use of digital design   platforms in processes of a specific order in order to improve the project.          

 Encourage them to propose and rehearse their proposal to define objectives, to design according to the demands of the users in participation with them, to link the development processes between the members of a team, to implement the pre-configurations and establish secondary and post-executives processes that allow them to obtain impact metrics for feedback, using softwares combination of their choice, thus guaranteeing the presence human agency beyond artificial intelligence. 

In other words, incentivize the creation of the concept "Workflow" in university communities for them to obtain proactive agency in their institution, thus empowering the student. Universities will have the ideal argument for raising the level of education and beating clientelism, as their capital would be partly in their own students. 

The means with which universities have now, allow to use digital technology as a tool and interface to update and improve the results of their curriculums without being overwhelmed with the implementation or adaptations in their infrastructures. 

If we consider design as a research process and workflow as a methodological contribution that can be implemented internationally, this can keep the extracurricular training via external diplomas which has demonstrated its potential for students to obtain timely knowledge of their preference without investing long periods of time and resources. If they adapt that knowledge to their workflow, they will be able to create their specialized competitive profiles with personal-professional interests depending on the contexts in which they belong, actions they currently perform intuitively, but apart from an entity that can recognize these processes, consolidate them, develop them and certify them academically.           

These contributions coming from the university community itself would have the capacity to feed back to the curriculums and enrich them, favoring horizontality in the studio, thus democratizing education positioning the graduate architect as a professional who can self-manage, with a value to offer and compete in a framework of globalization.

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