Spanish architecture is respected the world over, if the number of exhibitions, publications, Gaudí fans, and archi-tourists who visit this country are any indication. Yet the current Spanish government wants to de-professionalize professions such as architecture with its anteproyecto de Ley de Servicios Profesionales. If this law were to be passed, then an engineer would be allowed to design housing, schools, hospitals or museums.
The reason Spanish architecture is so respected is because its professionals are educated very rigorously; much more rigorously than in most other countries. An architectural thesis, or proyecto de fin de carrera, is not only comprised of a design and a theoretical treatise, but also a complete set of contract documents, i.e. a set of working drawings, structural calculations, details, specifications, etc. As a result, a graduate from a Spanish architecture school is competent in the art and science of building, and can be entrusted with a high degree of public responsibility. Given the complexity and density of Spanish cities, that is a good thing; not only for aesthetic reasons, but also for reasons of public safety, health and livability. We are what we build.
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?