Last May, Portugal became the third country within the 17-country eurozone in need of a financial rescue to avoid bankruptcy, following Greece and Ireland. Unemployment within the country has climbed up to 14.8 percent as the recession has brought harsh conditions to architects and architecture students alike. Now, the prestigious Faculty of Architecture at the Technical University of Lisbon (UTL), one that has fostered many great architects such as João Luis Carrilho da Graça and Manuel Aires Mateus, may be forced to close its doors.
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At the brink of financial disruption, the College will have no money to pay salaries in June if they do not find a way to reduce costs and increase revenue. This is a hard task considering operating costs have already been drastically cut. António Cruz Serra, who took over as dean about two months ago, believes the College is already “at the threshold of survival.”
In recent months, nearly 60 students have sought the annulment of registration for failing to pay fees while 36 guest teachers have been notified that they will not be receiving a teaching assignment for the second semester. António Cruz Serra has requested for financial assistance from the Ministry of Education and Science to help resolve the schools financial crisis, but there have been no reports that this will take place.
In December, the rector of the Technical University of Lisbon transferred 1.2 million to the School of Architecture for the construction of student residences. However, the funds were eventually used by the College to pay a debt to the General Pension Fund.
The president of the College, Pinto Duarte, is currently seeking new sources of revenue and will attempt to create more revenue “through the increased activity of projects with the outside world.”
A source from the Faculty of Architecture stated that “uncertainty is permanent” and teachers fear they will be laid off next.
In country known for its pristine architecture and Pritzker-winning architects, what are the long-term effects of closure, not only for the Portugal but also for the teachers and young aspiring Portuguese architects? How can reaching to the “outside world” help the College survive this crisis?