In the picture above: Richard Rogers with students of the Bachelor in Architectural Studies
© Roberto Arribas.
Hay Festival of Literature and Arts 2017
This year’s Segovia program included 94 events that took place between September 16 and 24, and were attended by 13,000 people. “Cities” was the central theme of a series of discussions featuring world-renowned speakers. The Pritzker Prize-winning Richard Rogers spoke to Martha Thorne, Dean of the IE School of Architecture and Design, about his vision for the future of our cities. A rock star in the world of architecture, Rogers is behind some of the most iconic buildings on the planet—from Paris’s Pompidou Center to the European Court of Human Rights and Madrid’s own Barajas Airport T4. Richard Rogers stopped by the studios of IE University’s Bachelor of Architecture program to engage with students and offer insight on their projects.
Richard Rogers at Hay Festival Segovia 2017. © Roberto Arribas.
While he was there, Rogers reflected on the key skills that architects and designers must develop in order to deal with the challenges facing the industry. He identified the importance of “realizing that architecture is much more than a single act; it’s a complex overlapping of specialties, you have to work with other people to solve the problems.” Rogers also emphasized the importance of embracing technological change and understanding that these developments will shape the future of architecture, as well as society in general. Nevertheless, he noted that architects should strive to maintain a connection to the poetry of their designs, refusing to let the technological eclipse the aesthetic.
The IE School of Architecture and Design was proud to host Rogers, as well as the other speakers and guests who made this year’s Hay Festival Segovia a resounding success. What skills will the future architect need?
I think three things are critically important. One, become this best designer architect because we need that specialism of creativity. Second, reach out. You can never do this alone. Be social and inclusive. Be able to build coalitions and do things together. Third, embrace the complexity this city brings you because this is the wealth of the future. Don’t ignore that complexity with one dimensional approaches, but take in the full breadth and width of your profession—the designer that can bring everything together. I think if you do those three, then you’ll be the best.
I would say to be nerds of the past. I mean the amount of knowledge that’s been accumulated in the form of buildings… those are our real professors. We should go and draw and measure buildings. Design lessons can be instructed from there, so be as nerdy as possible. That would be my advice.
Well it’s often said about architects that they know a little bit about a lot. But I think there are three key skills that the architect of the future is going to need. The first is passion. Passion to wake up in the morning, make a change and make a better world. If you don’t have that passion or that driving desire to do this, the rest of these skills won’t make much of a difference. The second is rigor. You can have all the desire in the world but if you don’t have a rigorous method and a way of working that lets you accomplish goals step by step, then all that passion won’t be very well directed. And the third is a kind of breadth or broad mindedness about how we apply our skills. You might be trained as an architect, you might be trained as a designer, but those skills are useful way beyond what we might ordinarily think. So those three things combined—a passion to make a change, a rigor in your method and a breadth in how you apply those skills—I think that’s what architects are going to need moving forward.
It’s two things. For the future, you always need to be able to ask questions and to try to answer them. The other skill is to always be fresh, optimistic and never give up. To me the world keeps changing, but underneath the surface it’s still the same. People still have the same needs—they want to meet each other, they want to spend time with each other and they want to make good places to be. Those skills are always the heart of what architecture and design is.
The three big challenges for architects in the future are to understand people, to understand place and to understand technology. We have to design the physical infrastructure, the digital infrastructure and the behavioral aspects as a single entity. Without all three elements you’re in trouble.