Marta Delgado (Paris, 1994) completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture at UIC Barcelona in 2017. She complemented her time at our school with a stay at the prestigious ETH in Zurich, where she received classes in cognition applied to design. Following her undergraduate studies, she completed a Postgraduate Degree in Health and Habitat Harmony at Escola Sert in Barcelona. “More than spaces, I’ve always been interested in people; in understanding who we are and how we satisfy our need for well-being and happiness”, she concludes. She has just obtained a grant from ‘la Caixa’ to be able to take postgraduate studies at the University of Berkeley (California) from now until 2020. She is also an instigator of the archiimpact.com project, a space for the dissemination and analysis of the impact of architecture on our lives, where she has gathered together more than thirty articles written by prestigious contributors.
In recent months Marta Delgado has been travelling around Asia. From India, where she is currently located, she talked about her vision of universities, architecture and her imminent move to the United States. And we begin with a question: Why architecture?
I always wanted to contribute to people’s quality of life and it must have been when I was around 15 that I realised that constructed environments define the reality we live in and our opportunities to behave, interact, and become socialised, etc. I thought that architects have the huge responsibility of creating this framework for people’s lives, and I thought it was a very interesting challenge, which I wanted to be a part of.
I looked at various universities and in the end decided to study at the UIC Barcelona School of Architecture because I was interested in receiving a more individualised education, involving close contact with the professors and innovative subjects. I could see that there were classes and material that wasn’t available in other universities. And I am sincerely very happy with the choice I made at the time: I learned how to approach and develop a project, what type of energy and ethics you have to have and how to work as part of a team; but above all I learned to think beyond. To dream, imagine and take on challenges that go beyond the traditional role of the architect. In that sense, I think that the profession is too focused on the visible aspect of construction and spaces, and I am interested in a broader view of architecture focusing on many different perceptions and on people’s well-being. It’s like what the little Prince in the book by Saint-Exupéry said: “What is essential is invisible to the eye”.
It is for that reason that I felt that talking about concepts such as perception, emotions, how people feel in spaces and what their experience of architecture is like, etc. was lacking. Some of the professors tried to, but I think that the profession and therefore the way architecture is taught is still very object-centric.
This is why, along with Sergi Viñals, one of my classmates, I decided to create a platform to talk about it from a different point of view archimpact.com. “Impact”, in the sense that we wanted to talk about how architecture has an impact on human beings. We didn’t want it to be a type of closed off space, but instead a place to connect with other people with the same interests and at the same time become motivated to start writing about these issues and disseminate them. We created an event which led us to get to know other people who already work or undertake research related these ideas or who participate or continue to participate in the project.
Now I hope to apply all this new knowledge I’ve acquired to the postgraduate degree I’m going to do at Berkeley: a master’s degree in Architectural research which works on material originating from different faculties and where you must undertake transdisciplinary research. The line I’d like to instigate, I hope to relate it to finding empirical evidence of the positive impact of certain aspects of constructed environments on the brain. While there I’ll be able to learn more about controlling environmental quality in buildings, biology and neuroscience, etc. Because I sincerely believe that science and architecture can, and should be, related. The psychological and physiological impact environmental conditions have on us can be evaluated more specifically through research.
To make a comparison: if we compare it to cooking, I would say that architecture today is like making food for all different tastes, but with little nutrition involved. In other words, there is a lack of scientific knowledge about what we need to feel good and to fully develop.
I think that technological and scientific progress is going to change the way that we do architecture. Having the right scientific knowledge and the ethics of overall well-being is an opportunity to greatly increase our quality of life and personal and collective experiences.
And a recommendation…?
That’s a difficult one. I would tell new graduates that they will have a lot of fun in this career but will also suffer a lot. I think it’s important for them to know that not all architects end up in the traditional role of having an office and doing building work. This at least is true: whatever they end up doing, they will have acquired attitudes and tools from this degree that are very important for any future personal or professional projects they decide to undertake.