Hey, teacher, you are wrong. You are teaching wrong. We have been taught wrong. I have. (You have.) You are not forming architects, but just a kind of meld between mediocre draftsmen and bad writers. But don’t worry, it’s not your fault, you’re still not an architect either.

Please, Schools, give me some architect to teach me, not a large-curriculum-researcher. But if you still want to teach me about writing, please give me a writer. Or if you want to teach me about thinking, please, please, give me a poet! But, please, I beg you, don’t give me teachers anymore.

I need to get my hands dirty. I need to edify something. I need to know how to build. Could you help me with that? Yes, something a bricklayer could do. A wall made of burnt clay bricks in common bond with recessed mortar joints. Or a carpenter. A gazebo made of glued laminated timbers. Just it. Beginning with that we may evolve our craft. We may also theorize on that if you wish. If we practice, we may discover something: a new material, a new method, a new form, I don’t know, but we might seek for it.

We could virtually travel to Antique Rome. We’ll see how Romans edified those great aqueducts, those domes, vaults and arcs. Incredible. What were the ingredients for that mortar amalgam? How did they do it? What are the measures of the bricks? How were they made? That will be our History class. Maybe we could try to build a small Roman aqueduct.

We could go to Chiloé, to see how those fishermen edified their cathedrals as reversed boats. How was that? What kind of joints they used? How they curved the boards? How they protect the wood from the rain? What a lesson it would be.

After a few walls and gazebos, after have met a few materials, maybe we can start to draw. Which form may the clay provide me? Which form may I propose to clay? What measures of brick may I work with? What thicknesses of mortar may I implement? Which type of drawing will provide a simpler and easier map for its construction? My wall would need just a isometric perspective with main measures, some section details, and some indications about the steps of construction. I think that’s it. My gazebo would need just a location plan and some details of the joints. Yes, we’ll be able to understand the construction through the project. The project will be a survey of the construction.

After a few years of practice on construction and drawing, on edification and projection, maybe we will be able to ask: what is a house? what make a house a house? what is the act of inhabit? how was its evolution over time and space? Why do we inhabit as we do? Maybe we can submerge on conception. Maybe we can finally gaze at some far horizon. But, teacher, I don’t need to answer those questions, I’m just a young student. Those are just natural concerns which rose through our practice. They started to grow inside without my awareness of them. One day they lighted my tongue. I wish that had really happened. You know you can’t teach us how to ask, but you might insist. Please insist. To question is much more important than to answer. Don’t teach us how to answer anymore. Don’t ask for answers. Teach the paths. Some paths towards the questions. You know it’s unteachable. But, maybe, one day we will be able to ask.

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6 thoughts on “Hey, teacher

  1. If an architect could teach anyone to make architecture, it would be eazy to graduate architects, for there are more architects than teachers. So a writer don’t teach
    to write and a poet don’t teach to make poetry. The problem is not with teachers. The problem is the ignorance, and i’m sorry to tell you, it is not a previlege of teacher. Architects distribute it more efficiently than teachers. If there is a solution, it is in reflection, not in practice, which is usually conservative.

    • I appreciate your comment, Silvio. But ignorance is a state of men. All men, as all professions, crafts or fields, are ignorant in some extent and some areas. And we choose to be ignorant on those other areas. It’s an indirectly or unconscious decision, of course. But by choosing to be an architect, you are choosing not to be everything else, i.e., to be ignorant on that. If I choose to be an architect, I have to be aware that I will not be a writer, a poet or a philosopher, even an historian. However, the beauty and the privilege of being a writer, a poet, a painting, a sculptor, is that it is completely unnecessary or even undesirable to attend some kind of higher studies. But if I may disagree with you, I would say that the “answer”, if there is any, is not in reflection, but in practice indeed. An architect could build a very good work with his hands only, which is to say, without his head. Architecture is fundamentally a productive craft. Reflection is a contingency for it. Let reflection for philosophers. And if you think I am proposing some kind of ignorance, you’ll be right.

    • i guess what he’s talking about has something to do with how ignorance might actually serve as a passive disruptor of the involuntary attachment to things already “answered” that comes up when we are taught certain preceptions while in architecture school. being able to experiment without such answers might actually drive us towards new questions. sounds too cliché to be the truth, but that is actually something that will provide new results coming not only from the one who’s made the original asking, but from a whole community, if it ever comes in contact with the question. with the question. not the first answer. and that’s much more like science. and learning. and academy. i mean, ignorance. shit, this part is not a cliché at all…

      but then… i’m not sure i got that right. that would be awkward.

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