Talca: The social value of an architecture education

ANDRES MARAGANO LEVEQUE //
La Escuela de Arquitectura de la Universidad de Talca //
Talca //
July 17th 2017 //

I was invited to visit Andres at the School of Architecture in Talca. I had heard a lot about the work of Talca, and their commitment to creating a University which connected directly with its local context.

The School started in 1999, nine years after Pinochet’s 17-year rule. It started with an aim of serving the needs of the communities beyond the capital city of Santiago.

They created the concept called ​​Ciudad Valle Central, which talks about the future for towns and cities in the Central Valley of Chile. This is a central area of Chile, south of the capital. Their students come from this region, and their work directly links to the needs of this region.

The university started with 80 students, and a small number of full-time professors, all recently graduated young architects.They designed a programme that concentrated on an exploration of materials, and social value. They organised the academic year around four periods of two months, called bimestres. This model still runs, and they invite teachers from different parts of the country and the world to come for 2 month periods, ensuring they have teachers of the best national level. So they have an ever-changing team of professionals visiting the campus and changing the dynamic of the students work throughout the year.

The first stage of the degree is called Crafting, refers to skills related to what an architect traditionally should know. Basic building and craft skills which understand how materials work together and in different contexts.
The second stage is Operating, which includes the necessary skills for a graduated architect to perform successfully in a competitive environment.
And the third stage is Innovating, includes training in skills which allows a graduated to perform in a world characterised by instability and change.

The most visible expression of the School has become the Title Work, projects that address problems and real situations in the area. The responses are architectural works of small format. And they are present in multiple places across the region.

For me the school is an example of how a small group of visionary leaders can create a strong and cohesive educational experience for students. Holding a consistent vision for the role of design and architecture in its social context. They have built an international reputation, without striving to be anything other than useful and relevant in their unique context. The team includes:

Juan Román, Eduardo Aguirre, Blanca Zúñiga, José Luis Uribe, Susana Sepúlveda, German Valenzuela, Kenneth Geiser, Andres Maragaño.

Andres was incredibly kind as he drove me round to take a look at some of the final year student projects, in the surrounding countryside.

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