8 Feb

Interview with Ciro Pirondi

Architect Ciro Pirondi is an important reference in the practice and teaching of architecture. Former president of the Brazilian Institute of Architects (1992/94), current director of the Escola da Cidade, located in São Paulo, has gently presented to us the school’s facilities, teacher and students. At that time he answered some questions asked by The Green Club.

Professor Ciro Pirondi

T.G.C. – Escola da Cidade has a different manner of structuring; it is quite free. How the students attend classes and its curricular structure are differentiated from traditional colleges. Would you please talk about the school’s operation?

Professor Ciro Pirondi – Escola da Cidade is a not-for-profit teaching association, a type of cooperative among teachers and students.

The pedagogical and administrative-finance projects tend to move together. Decisions are made on a collective basis and a non-departmental teaching committee decides and manages the school.

I point out that the pedagogical project is extremely synthetic: only one discipline a day.

The Vertical Studio, where students from different grades make up the teams, and three times a week during the year address the same theme with the guidance of different disciplines.

The Itinerant School, with itinerant teachers and trips throughout Brazil and Latin America.

Every Wednesday we have the “Seminar on Culture and Contemporary Reality” with varied themes and visitors.

There are also parties and permanent events, both for undergraduates and graduate course students.

Photo: Students working in the studio.

T.G.C. – How could the Escola da Cidade become a reality?

Professor Ciro Pirondi – A little bit of irresponsibility, a clear, humanist and utopian ideology in regard to education. A large bit of affection and recognition among us.

T.G.C. – You said that students from different grades attend the same classes. How is it possible to have such flexibility?

Professor Ciro Pirondi – The pedagogical principle is very simple:

When we read a book by Machado de Assis at 15 years of age and then we reread it at 30, it seems like another book we will read. The same is true in the learning process; students with different experiences exchange a lot of information among them and learn to work collectively.

Teaching architecture in the nineteenth and twentieth century valued the individual; on the other hand, in twenty-first century focuses on the collective and multidisciplinary work.

T.G.C. – What is your main concern when training your students?

Professor Ciro Pirondi – Training citizens with a critical vision who are able to transform reality by understanding that the architecture profession is that of a service provider in relation to society, similarly to a shoemaker or a street sweeper.

“When we read a book by Machado de Assis at 15 years of age and then we reread it at 30, it seems like another book we will read”

T.G.C. – How many teachers and students do you have?

Professor Ciro Pirondi – The proportion of students, supervisors and teachers at Escola da Cidade is three to one. This is an anomaly to be solved.

T.G.C. – What is the Itinerant School? And what is its contribution to architecture and urban planning?

Professor Ciro Pirondi – It is a School that travels to the locations pre-defined in the pedagogical project. It is an obligatory discipline. The future of Architecture Teaching is to be multidisciplinary and itinerant. The Scholl travels throughout Brazil and Latin America twice a year.

Its biggest contribution is the training of future architects based on the reality that is seen, felt and studied.

T.G.C. – To our Amazon reality, studying in São Paulo is very expensive. What should a student who desires to study at Escola da Cidade, but lives far from the São Paulo-Rio de Janeiro axis do? Are there scholarships for students who live in other states of Brazil?

Professor Ciro Pirondi – Such a student should dream and desire it intensely. The rest of the problem will be solved by us.

T.G.C. – You participated in trips in several countries of Latin America and Brazilian southeast. In those trips, did you implement projects with the local communities?

Professor Ciro Pirondi – Yes, whenever possible. Right now we are conducting a school project for a Xavante community in the Amazon region.

T.G.C. – Is there any chance to include the Amazon region in one of those trips?

Professor Ciro Pirondi – I believe it is urgent to include a Amazon region. It is our fault not having gone there.

T.G.C. – The building where the institution works is located in the greater São Paulo downtown area. Some buildings that had been degraded in that area are now gaining new life with the presence of Escola da Cidade. Could you tell us about that experience?

Professor Ciro Pirondi – Being located in a city with 10 million people and having the name Escola da Cidade was not by chance. Our idea was to transform the surroundings with projects and partnerships such as the “Passage of citizenship” that we conducted in cooperation with four non-governmental organizations.

The main façade of Escola da Cidade in downton São Paulo

T.G.C. – What plans does Escola da Cidade have for 2011?

Professor Ciro Pirondi – In addition to everything, we will conduct a vacation course in June 2011, together with the Habitat Institute of master do Lelé in Salvador (State of Bahia).

In March, we will organize an Iberian-American Conference of the Architecture School to discuss Project Teaching.

In April, as is the case every two years, we will have the International Seminar, this time with the presence of Schools from Denmark, China, Spain, Italy, and Argentina.

There will be many celebrations and we will improve Editora Cidade, also by publishing a magazine.

Please ask everyone to take two aspirins to avoid any new ideas for 2011.

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