Law May Render Architects Unnecessary in Spain

Courtesy of NoalaLSP, via Plataforma Arquitectura

As if architects in  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 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 Irene Garrido 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.

Story via El Mundo and Plataforma Arquitectura

Cite: Quirk, Vanessa. "Law May Render Architects Unnecessary in Spain" 18 Jun 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 01 Oct 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=390072>
  • me.

    I have nothing good to say about this Neo-Liberal anti-citizen government in spain and her Horrific Actions over the past few years in the name of the economy, including this law.

    BUT at the same time it is important to say, and to discuss the fact that there is a half guild – half mafia like hold of a senior class of architects, and the schools that they promote over the term and legality of the construction industry, in most parts of the world.

    there is no reason why an engineer / designer / architecture worker could not have a legal status after X amount of experience, X tests of liability and even X amount of state run classes (not a full academic degree).

  • Neil

    This is the case in the UK. We have protection of title (you have to be qualified and registered to use the title) but no protection of function. Anyone can do the work of an architect and therefore we have to persuade the public that using an architect gives them a benefit over any other sort of “building designer”. I don’t think we have ever had protection of function here.

  • Philip

    Well after the architects who is next for removal of exclusivity, Lawyers, oh wait how about Doctors, lets see If a professional is competent enough to (execute one building’s construction) treat his/her own illness, it is understood that he/she will also be capable of (executing other kinds of buildings) curing/treating any member of the public, regardless of (its intended use) how ill the individual may be!!
    Good Luck Spain

  • http://www.mirrorarquitectos.com Carlos Espejo

    Thanks for the echo of this new. It would be very helpfull if UK architects could support us with your messages and supporting our media campaigns.
    At the end of the day this could be a first step for engineers to build architecture (sort of…) all over Europe

  • common

    ha the beginning of the end for architecture? Time for the profession to change with the times.With any change that threatens to destabilize an industry, the smart ones adapt, rather than complain…Look at the music and movie industry.They have changed with the times. Take IBM for example.The used to be a computer hardware company,now they’ve evolved into a solutions based business.My point is that, change is inevitable.If things are changing industry-wide in terms of the role of an architect, it is time to evolve to meet the change rather than complain,protest etc

  • Bruno

    In Portugal they do the same since 1973, because of a stupid law called “decreto 73/73″. Most of the work in the last 40 years was made by engineers. The result was ugly architecture all around the country, specially in suburban areas of Lisbon. Ordinary people usually ignore that, and blame architects for those horrible buildings.

  • Prostudent

    I think Architects should start working out their own engineering solutions now so that the profession can make up for lost work! how hard can it be. you work out the forces and double as a safety factor which removes any risk of the calculation!!! easy

    • Engineering student

      Good luck with that… That is the kind of snotty attitude that some architects have that give them a bad name…

    • Engieering student

      Good luck with that… If the need for architects needs to be protected by law and consequently the need for them would disappear if the law is revoked, what is the point of having architects? I think you guys need to adapt to the real world…

  • SANTIAGO

    This is just a new political strategy to deviate us from the main problem of Spanish architects thinking that the crisis is not the worst thing we have but also the possiblity to take away even more and so do not feel so bad about not having work.

  • Get over it

    Architecture needs to evolve.
    The Architecture profession in Spain has long enjoyed a comfortable protected status, that for example systematically makes it impossible for foreigners to work there.

    • Mirror

      This is not a question of status. This is a question of logics, architecture is not only construction, in Spain architects are formed to solve structure and M&E after a minimum of 6 years at university. Maybe thats the point to be improved in some other countries. Logic says that architecture should be done by architects, the same way a factory is designed by engineers, or Surgery in humans is done by surgeons, not by veterinaries, although they are capables to operate mammals…

  • Honduran architecture student

    In Honduras this is perfectly legal. Civil Engineers rule. Sadly architects come always in second place.

  • Soupdragon

    Go to the Costa del Sol and see how ‘necessary’ architects have contributed.

    On a serious note, architects have never been ‘necessary’ in any country, it has only existed as a profession for a short space of time, before that we were labelled as master craftsmen and would today be called contractors.
    It’s time architects retook the ground that contractors have taken, that is the key, not arguing over our egotistical title.

  • snarkitect

    Devaluing architecture is an ever increasing problem. Most ‘architecture’ in the US right now really wouldn’t need an architect since it’s only a jumble of chaotic parts. It’s not designed, the column grids aren’t aligned or even creatively placed, and the envelope just traces the property lines. It doesn’t need an architect’s hand at all to create such buildings with obesity problems (oh sorry they’re ‘efficient’). People are losing any appreciation for architecture because developers are able to get away with building things that aren’t designed in the first place.

    • jj

      Snarkitect, I agree with you and to a small point, disagree. These dull, mediocre buildings ruled over by developers ARE designed. They’re just designed for profit, not for living.

  • Jason Wagner

    I don’t have any confidence that having a license produces better quality architecture. The non-architect designed subdivisions here in the US aren’t any better or worse than the architect designed strip malls and office parks next door.

    imo it should be much easier to become licensed. I think it’s more of a barrier to good talent than a barrier to bad.

  • Bruno de Moura Eufrásio

    Come to Brazil, then. Basically engineers design all buildings, and most architects design just as bad as engineers, that if the mason doesn’t do the full job by themselves.

  • Dave

    Clients will go for the cheapest solution. And of course if you have to pay Engineer + Architect, that is more expensive than paying Engineer + 5-10% more or even nothing more. Actually as someone said earlier architects are really not that necessary. People have been building their own stuff for millenia without the need of an architect. It’s sad but it’s true. Also with the advent of internet print-screening some plans from a real estate agency’s website anyone can make their own houses, even people playing with cheap design software.

    The need for an architect has to shift from needing a stamp/signature on some paper plans to really offering more: design, sustainability, usage ergonomics, future costs for repairs/usage, etc. The architect has to come out with more at the same price with the engineer.

    On the other hand engineers could become almost obsolete also as structure-calculation software evolves. Just think of the Bridge Builder video game. Imagine that one spits out the dimensions, beam types, welding, etc, PLUS a cost estimate.

    The whole world evolves and each profession has to evolve with it. Software does more and people are not needed that much.

  • Stefan

    LAW LIKE THIS EXISTS IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA FOR YEARS!!!

  • Peter Fribo

    Of course it is possible ;) everything is Architecture.

    It grows organically by anyone with enough need and purpose. Then, if conditions are right, it grows and evolves, blooms and spreads etc.

    This article is interesting but I’m still on the fence, due to my ignorance on the subject… Law that is, not Architecture :)

  • John

    liberalization is absolutely necessary because architects can not have expertise in design and engineering as well. For that reason when they come to the EU believe that they can have two professions rather than a single

  • Antonio Ramos

    World only for engineers?, so Spain government is becoming crazy!
    Support our Spanish fellows. REMEMBER F.LLOYD RIGHT AND LE COURBUSIER WERE ARCHITECS WITHOUT TITLES. THEY WERE DESIGNERS, ARTISTS, PROJECT THINKERS AND DRAFTERS.

  • Nick Simpson

    This is already effectively the way things work in the UK. It’s ridiculous to have a closed market – and I’m studying to become an architect.

  • DC

    does this mean I need to drop architecture and go for marketing?