Pablo Amor: “Educating children in architecture and urbanism is vital to advancing towards the model of city we deserve”

Pablo Amor: "Formar a los niños en arquitectura y urbanismo es vital"

WE INTERVIEW PABLO AMOR, ASSOCIATE AT ARQUITECTIVES. WE FEEL LOTS OF PRIDE TO KNOW THIS INITIATIVE HAS COME FROM THE INQUISITIVENESS OF ARCHITECTS WITH A PAST IN CMV-ARCHITECTS

How and when does the Arquitectives initiative start?

Arquitectives started in 2009, when Cristina Llorente, the other side of the collective, and me were working at CMV-Architects. At that moment we thought, on top of our job as architects, to start a series of activities to share our knowledge of architecture with children in a playful and close manner. We were always aware of the limited knowledge there is of architecture, both in the world of education and in society in general. So at the time we started some workshops on weekends, beginning with the children of friends and acquaintances. A lot of these workshops were held inside of the CMV-Architects offices.

With time, we started investigating about this world of education in architecture for children and young adults and we found out that there weren’t barely any in Spain. We found some groups with similar interests in Barcelona and the Basque Country, and a program for schools promoted by the Official School of Architects in Galicia. However, we were shocked to find out how important these types of programs are in the north of Europe, specially in Finland, where from the 80s teaching architecture is part of the school syllabus from childhood to secondary education. We also found out that the International Union of Architects (UIA) had a work program called “Architecture & Children”, that tries to promote this type of education. The program counted then with 33 member countries without a Spanish delegation. All this encouraged us to keep working in this line, reason why we started to plan an annual education program for schools. Thanks to the support of the Official School of Architects of Spain, we turned into the Spanish delegates of this international work groups, which allows us to stay in touch with professionals in the matter in other countries. Currently, the group meets twice a year, usually in European cities and regularly outside of our continent.Desde entonces, hemos ido viendo como cada vez son más los colectivos, concienciados en la importancia de esta formación para las personas.

How is work organised in the company, both at a human and technological level?

It’s not work that requires using the typical programs that you’d find at an architecture studio, or at least not usually. On our day to day, we use word processors and image editors, worksheets and presentations, as well as some on-line and social media tools. On the other hand, with the students we’re interested in pushing manual tasks, like for example the elaboration of models with recycled materials, always from a practical, creative and simple perspective, where we value more the understanding of concepts thought the process than the actual result.

Pablo Amor: "Formar a los niños en arquitectura y urbanismo es vital"

What projects is Architectives currently working on?

We are currently working on different centres and cultural & educational institutions through sessions, programs and projects of different duration and concrete themes, but always related to art, architecture, the city and the environment.

Also, public administrations have started to show interest in our work, not just from the point of view of diffusion of architecture, but also because of our effort in implicating youngsters in the participative processes of urban transformation. With all this, we achieve that these collectives traditionally forgotten in these kinds of processes can feel more valued and involved, taking responsibility of the future conservation of everything that is done. More and more there are people who are concerned about these participative processes and given our long trajectory of work with schools, when its time to connect a part of them to urban transformation, architecture, models of cities or transformation of free spaces, they approach Architectives to transfer all of this to kids in an effective manner.

For a few years now, the Centre de Professorat de Palma has been contacting us to offer training to teachers in the mater of transformation of educational spaces, given the importance that is being given to the new didactics in schools using the educational space as a new teaching tool for teachers.

We, in the end, take all this to the city area because we defend that it’s not just the space of the school that educates, but also the urban space. In this line, there are very interesting projects like the “city of children”, from the Italian pedagogue Francesco Tonucci, or the safe school paths, a theme we are working on with the school Es Liceu and the Marratxí city hall, involving all the teaching staff of 3rd year of ESO. The students will do their own proposals about a safe school path that will be taken to city hall to encourage the student’s autonomy. We believe it is important to call attention to how the use of cars can become an issue in school areas. We are also in talks with other municipalities that want to develop these kinds of initiatives.

Finally, in Palma we’re working with city hall on transforming empty lots in the city, integrating in the process the participation and work of neighbours schools and other collectives of the area.

What steps is Architectives looking to take in the future?

We would like to see a change in scale. I mean that these participative processes weren’t limited to transforming a part of the city or planning a new itinerary.

Currently there exists a growing need to involve citizens in the processes of decision making that affect the urban environment. It would be a good step for us if participation processes that we promote in this day and age could transcend and evolve to more complex ones.