As if architects in Spain weren't struggling enough - what with the Crisis closing half the country's studios and putting over 25% of Spanish architects out of work - a new law could now render Spanish architects effectively unnecessary.
A preliminary document reveals that, if passed, The Law of Professional Services (LSP) will modify labor regulations in order to allow engineers, or really any one "competent" in construction, to take on the work of architects:
“Exclusivity is eliminated. Architects or engineers with competency in construction will be able to design and direct projects, including residential, cultural, academic or religious buildings. [...] If a professional is competent enough to execute one building’s construction, it is understood that he/she will also be capable of executing other kinds of buildings, regardless of its intended use.”
Unsurprisingly, Spanish architects have risen up against the law, mobilizing both physical protests as well as social media campaigns. Even Pritzker-Prize winner Rafael Moneo has offered his opinion on the matter...Hear what Moneo has to say, after the break...
A council meeting of Government Ministers in April, which promised to shed light on the status of the law, left many Spaniards dissatisfied, as the LSP was only tangentially mentioned. The council members are expected to meet again later this month; the law will be approved or dismissed by the end of this year.
In the meantime, however, architects in Spain demand transparency. Not only have physical protests been sparked across the country, but numerous Twitter (#noalaLSP) and Facebook campaigns have helped to call the architecture community to action (for a full list of social media pages/hashtags see here).
Even Pritzker Laureate Rafael Moneo has, along with his famous colleagues Ricardo Aroca and Fuensanta Nieto, spoken out against the law, which will supposedly "liberalize" the definition of the architect:
"I don’t think 'liberalizing' everything is the cure-all solution. [This law] should mirror a real state of affairs, where construction professionals produce change in a way that’s efficient, without it becoming a competition between professionals," Moneo told El Mundo.
His sentiment is echoed by many architects, who note that their grievance is not against engineers, but rather against the government that has failed to recognize the important role architects play. As blogger Rafael Gomez-Moriana put it in his blog:
"I have nothing against engineers. The only airplane I will set foot in is one designed by an engineer. But by the same token, I don't want my child attending a school designed by an engineer. There are good reasons for specialists in a technologically complex society. Why the current government of Spain wants to change this is beyond any comprehension whatsoever. The argument is that it will make Spanish professionals "more competitive". But judging by the record of Spanish architects who have won international architectural competitions, this argument is ridiculous. C'mon: what's the real reason?"
Beyond raising the question of the government's motivation for the law (which is supposedly economical), the law also raises a more important question. As ArchDaily reader Isabel Villalobos pointed out to us, the real question is: "Is it possible to have Architecture without architects?"
Let us know what you think in the comments below.