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Jeremy Till

Against: Architecture would be better off without Schools of Architecture

Jeremy Till - click for biography
 

Apparently there was once a golden age of architecture when gentlemen architects working for gentlemen clients took on (and exploited) apprentices who aspired to be gentlemen. Architecture was stable and respectable as both profession and product, and knowledge transmitted in a seamless manner from master to student. Then there were the myths that the architectural greats, Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier learnt their trade at the feet of their masters (Sullivan and Perret/Behrens) – myths that conveniently overlook the fact that both received some form of institutional architectural education. And then the schools of architecture intervened, and everything, so the story goes, went rapidly downhill.

The ‘golden’ era was maybe just about viable, if rather distasteful and certainly misogynist, in the elite aura of the Victorian era but since then things have moved on. We live in liquid times and need a febrile intelligence to cope with them. Apprenticeships perpetuate the status quo, providing fixed ways of doing things in a self-referential manner. Education at its best challenges the status quo, finding new ways of operating and thinking in order to cope with the new times – for example, two of the main drivers in recent architecture, CAD and sustainable design were first developed in University Schools, MIT and Cambridge respectively. Without architecture schools, architectural knowledge would wither, held tightly to the practitioner’s chest or overwhelmed by the forces of the marketplace, and with this architecture would be condemned to an irrelevant backwater of self-congratulation. Architecture schools give the space to imagine what a better world might be like, and if this is sometimes uncomfortable to the conservative forces of the profession, then the schools are probably doing one part of their job.

 

 

 

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