In architecture schools, students are challenging the culture of the “cart”
“I am cart! This popular expression, still current, has a distant etymology. It originated in 19th century Paris.e century, when the students of the architecture section of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris had their work transported on carts for their evaluation by a jury. Until the last moment, the students continued their work, perched on a cart. The picturesque image spans two centuries and refers to an intense phase of work, lasting several days and nights, during which the students wear themselves out in the hope of an optimal “rendering” of the project. The expression still resonates in the corridors of the twenty-two French schools of architecture.
“We fight against this practice”assures Caroline Lecourtois, director of the ENSA (National School of Architecture) of Paris-La Villette, summarizing the position of the heads of establishments. “Twenty years ago, charrettes were organized by the teaching stafftestifies Raphaël Labrunye, architect and director of the ENSA of Normandy. It was a rite of passage. » Claiming a total investment, even if it means causing the students to lose sleep and a little of their health, was part of the learning process. “Today, teachers know that this is not a method. The school is doing everything possible to prevent students from being overworked.continues the director. ” It’s wrong ! » respond with one voice all the students we met. The accumulation of multiple renderings over short times remains a common practice.
Several factors contribute to the sustainability of the “charrettes”. The General Inspectorate for Education, Sport and Research (Igesr) and the General Inspectorate for Cultural Affairs (IGAC) mention them in a joint report on teaching conditions in ENSAs, published in December 2021. What contributes to overwork? “perceived by students”It is “the contraction of the duration of studies to which is added the lack of coordination between disciplines and the vagueness of the pedagogical framework and evaluation criteria”. All “contributes to student anxiety and malaise”find the two inspections.
“We stuffed the schedules”
In 2005, the Ministry of Culture (oversight of ENSA) adapted training in schools of architecture according to the licence-master-doctorate (LMD) version. The study time is then reduced by one year, but the reference material to be acquired becomes denser. “We stuffed the schedules”recognizes François Brouat, president of the college of directors and boss of ENSA Paris-Belleville.
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