The practice of architecture —creating projects that are then converted into buildings— has entered fully, after commercial and industrial distilled processes, in a mercantile environment where its performance is the same as a number of other goods, some essential and some other rather superfluous. It is undeniable today that both its trade and benefits, together with its image and marketing, are key factors that make architecture possible. In particular, issues such as <em>economic feasibility</em> and <em>investment return</em> are a strong influence anywhere in the developed world for architectural exemplars to occur, to meet the demands of their historical moment.
However, the definition of "architectural problem" differs conceptually from the conditions of the business environment where it moves today's architecture. An architectural problem is the need for an individual or group of people to see fulfilled such habitat where to perform activities related to human development, whether they are vital daily activities (home), work or labor (offices, shops), social and cultural (schools, libraries, etc.)., recreation and leisure (theaters, entertainment centers), health (clinics, hospitals, etc.), transport (train and metro stations, airports), tourism (hotels, resorts), etc. And although one cannot deny the close relationship between these buildings with the economic structure of any society, the difference here, as pointed out above, is the housing needs of the human being —livability— and not only the market forces and/or created interests.
For today’s architecture students, the destination when they become professionals is to be able to proficiently design their buildings as being efficient and convenient, within a competitive environment, if not among architects yet according to property developers and investors, who are at the end who get the ability to place projects. Then, students look more to the demand of "society" in terms of consumption, which, besides it is not always a reflection of reality; it dilutes the real profile of actual users and beneficiaries of the buildings. It is the equivalent of a medical student who moved according to the trends set by media messages about the anatomical characteristics of the individual as desirable according to fashion, for instance the body’s silhouette, the shape of the nose, body hair on certain parts, etc., and set aside the real health conditions, that never are a lack.
In the case of modern medicine, fortunately, it is the diagnosis which has marked its reason for being. Everything moves from a serious study of the pathological conditions of a medical problem, and coming out solutions do it around that diagnosis. Sometimes the circumstances are unclear and the diagnosis must be modified according to changing factors, but what prevails is the idea of setting a clear identification of the problem, a reliable diagnosis.
It would be very appropriate that in architecture there would also be serious talking about diagnosis, about the identification of real and practical problems in their proper dimensions. About the existence of many cases that remain unsolved for an apparent lack of necessity or duress, while discussing and consuming vast amounts of human and material resources in unnecessary or speculative projects, from initiative and financing of both public and private funds.
It would be great for architecture students to learn about the reality of architectural spaces user and his conditions (livability) and not just the market conditions, trends in fashion, art and aesthetic innovations, high technology, "starchitecture", political strategies, the construction industry, property development, building loans, etc. There is no denying on the existence of the latter, but the real practice of architects, the vocational activity with a human sense, comes rather with the knowing of the projects recipient. Ultimately, choosing to bring a true diagnosis in the architecture studies is paving the way for students to find their place in a firmer way through a truly ethical practice of their profession.