The number of students completing their studies in Architecture and Urbanism in Brazil is enormous. Presenting a data that gives us a basic notion, only in Greater São Paulo are more than a thousand Architecture students graduating each year and the tendency is to increase that number. But what can the young architect expect? Is there a field of work large enough to absorb so much labor?
The field of work for the area had a peak of warming, mainly due to the expressive economic growth registered in recent years and the boom of the real estate market, which had a great contribution, besides the increase of the consumption power of the Brazilian middle class that passed for demanding new services, among them the professional work of architectural consulting.
However, with the current scenario of recession and the future uncertainties of the policy, they bring a haze to the dreams and perspectives of thousands of young architects. What will become of my future? In spite of this, new questions can be asked, for example, what is “success” in the profession of architect? And what exactly are the fields of work for architects?
The work of architecture professionals in Brazil is still, unfortunately, quite reduced to the civil construction sector, so any turbulence in this area directly affects the life and tranquility of the architects. The area of urbanism, however, is less showy, less evident and less celebrated, but whose performance is of extreme importance to remove the profession from the complex impasse in which it is.
Perhaps this is the time to begin to see Architecture from new angles, whose professional ideals need to be revised, and discover other ways to achieve the much-desired “success.” The success among Brazilian professionals seems to be reduced simply to an authorial architecture – often excellent – but often invariably invested in high-income social extracts. A European architect made the following comment about our architecture: “Brazilian architecture is phenomenal, but it appears to us as an architecture of only chic houses, and if not, of luxury residential and commercial buildings.”
This sort of deification of the authorial architecture of genius talent limits the perspectives horizon of our students and presents them as only alternative a world of high competitiveness, distressing, in which apparently only a small group of elected will achieve success.
Such a posture is not a characteristic of ours, in Brazil, but of architecture in general. The glorification of some of the great names in world architecture, which form a kind of envied jet-set of the profession, further fuels the phenomenon. Interestingly, great names in national architecture have recently publicly expressed their fear of the “invasion” of our market by these popes of the profession, when in fact this is only the consequence of a logic that they have always helped to feed.
Moreover, the celebration of authorial production, by its competitive nature, ends up hiding a majority of office professionals, with significant production, who struggled hard to survive with the profession of architecture, but which this selective funnel did not put into the of the “great architects”. However much it may be, the evaluation of what is worthy or not at this altar can not but carry a heavy dose of subjectivism.
This is not the way, although it can be understood that the generation in question produced at a time when the still very limited architecture market could perhaps be summed up by the production of a few dozen great professionals. The problem is to reproduce this thought for future generations, whose universe of action is completely different, much larger, more complex, no longer just on the drawing board of some large offices. However, our young people continue to learn that this is the model to follow.
Projects aimed at the social area and the social interest as a whole are rather scarce and the mentality of many students does not follow this direction. In specialized journals in Architecture and Urbanism in Brazil of great circulation, rarely or never we find subjects on projects of social housing (for income below 3 minimum salaries), no project of the My House My Life Program (MCMV), no project of public companies, of multi-stakeholder advisory services. This “world” of housing of social interest, of urban (generalized) informality, simply does not seem to belong to the “world” of architecture.
The Brazilian Architecture as it is possible to notice, although its undeniable international success failed in the social area. This conclusion comes from a country where, on average, 40% of the population lives precariously, without architecture or urbanism. A tragedy, which should undoubtedly make the architects sleep, but apparently we live in this scene or with our eyes closed. Architecture and Urbanism, when viewed as a central profession in society, which reflects and proposes the organization of the territory and the built space, has an unquestionably transforming vocation. However, apart from the good works of individual authors, it has arguably not been able to sustain a decent urbanization in our country.
Not enough of its failure to build fairer cities, also in the universe of formality, of the legal city, where the most capitalized real estate market works – and therefore the market of the architects – the Brazilian Architecture seems to have nothing more to say . Despite the expectations placed on the shoulders of the new generation of Architecture offices, it seems that their strength to influence the mass production of the construction market in our cities is extremely limited. In most cases, architecture seems to have been reduced to a facade formalism, which conceals behind the false polemic of adopted styles (neoclassical or other denominations) the denial of all that one learns in college as the “good architecture”.
The architecture that prevails is that of extreme verticalization captained by the real estate market, to transfigure without guilty traditional neighborhoods, producing isolated buildings in the lot, surrounded and walled, that deny the street and the city. The unbridled option of the car model over collective transport systems – which the architecture happily endorses – feeds the generalized supply of housing units with sometimes more than ten parking spaces, which leads to total waterproofing of the ground, affecting without parsimony urban drainage and water drainage. The apartments offered, behind some seductive style, are becoming less generous, tighter, less ventilated, replacing precious square meters in the housing units for collective spaces in the ground floor, much more economical (for the constructors), under the glamor of fashion names: gourmets, fitness centers, etc. The logic of building walled condos with leisure equipment and even commerce, instead of opening to the city, produces a segmented urban network, little fluid, and that gradually wiping out the possibility of quality public spaces. Squares, gardens and trees so that, if it is possible to have all this exclusively, in the mini-cities, or fortified citadels, that have become the condominiums?
In this way, we can notice that the market for professionals of Architecture and Urbanism in Brazil is not saturated, it is not scarce, but, on the contrary, the country demands many more professionals in our segment. The big question is that the small, narrow-minded mentality of what becomes Architecture and what can be expected as a “success” in the career makes us always tread on that path of exacerbated and terrifying competition. All of us obviously expect prestige and recognition, however, this must be unmasked from much we know and which seems to be in an infinite loop of reproduction. You have to open your eyes and see the real Architecture that Brazil needs and is open arms to welcome architects, professionals of transformation!
Text inspired by the original by João Sette Whitaker published in Revista Arquitextos