It is no news that architects work long hours. The passion for the projects and the non-defined line of when you are finished editing a drawing can turn the 8 hour working days into 12-16 hour days. It is almost custom to burn out at some point during your education or career. We often discuss this issue amongst each other, however, nothing really changes. 

Lately, I have I asked why and I have many theories. I will only share one today as you would get bored otherwise. This theory is linked to our education and the working atmosphere there. Mainly as our university-time sets the tone for how we later relate to our profession and has a crucial influence on our working life. All of you have not gone through this journey and therefore I thought I share some of my experience.

I studied my bachelor in Glasgow and during my first week there, people told me about their "all-nighters", the time when the studio was 24/7 and people stayed for days finishing projects and how I might need to invest in some caffeine pills. Moving forward in time, I finished my first year and had understood that this was not just stories but also a part of the reality. It was even praised to stay up late and sometimes it could feel like a competition regarding who had worked most hours.

During my second year, this atmosphere concluded in me getting burned out. My friends were true heroes during this time but none of my teachers said anything about the fact that they had seen me losing weight, looking stressed and tired until I came back after a recovery in Sweden. Then I heard that they had noticed and that they were glad that it looked like I was getting better again. Maybe no-one said anything as they were too used to see this happening? Because trust me, I am not the only one. However, in my case, it at least taught me where my line was and I became determined not to cross it again.

Another year passed and I was able to graduate with my bachelor degree in my pocket. Then I moved to Singapore for an internship. Again, even before I started I heard horror stories from a girl I met about normal working days finishing around 22.00 and that Saturdays often were not really considered weekend. I was lucky enough to realize that most people in my office "only" worked between 09.00 & 19.00 and that Saturday's site visits were not mandatory but recommended. It went well and I am actually very thankful for everything I learned there. 

Then I moved again and this time to Copenhagen, a city known for its livability and its great work-life balance. However, in this reputation, they have forgotten to mention the deviating education-life balance, or at least the architecture education-life balance. Because when you are getting e-mails in the middle of the night from your teachers, are being told that you need to be focused the coming week as you will have a course 9.00-17.00 and need to do the work that normally takes at least 10 hours a day after that, it is difficult to find a work-life balance. 

Although, I did get through and I am now standing in front of the year that is known to be the heaviest work year of them all and I have asked myself how it possibly could get more. I still do not know but I do believe that except architecture, my education has taught me how to stay up several nights in a row; both because of personal desires but also because of the fact that it is simply what the architecture profession expect. It is this expectation that we carry with us into professional life and makes us think that it is normal to not sleep before deadlines or to eat both lunch and dinner in front of the computer. 

I do have to say that the change has started and Copenhagen's offices seem to have come pretty far. But, as I have just explained, it is in the universities that I believe that it all starts and I think that this is where the change needs to happen or we will never really turn around.

Etiketter: education starting out

How is our society changing and developing? How could/should architecture respond to these changes?

Many people ask me what I study and I find that the above two questions 
together better explain my master program's focus than its actual name - Urbanism and Societal Change (USC). Because it is through these two questions that we have started every project in the past year and it is simply what leads the studies at the program.

Furthermore, they lay the foundation for our project's initial research phase. This phase later leads to a design phase and lastly an architectural response. However, it is the strong research focus and desire to look forward, that characterize USC. This is a process that I enjoy and something that I think is easily skipped when deadlines are around the corner in an office.

Therefore, I would like to ask today why it is not a natural habit of every architect's practice, rather than something exclusive, happening on the side at different institutions and departments? I do not know, however, I think that as AI is developing and "open source" is a natural part of our daily life, it could be time to question how architecture is practiced traditionally. 

View from my window View from my window

Much has happened since my last post and it would be too long and boring if I explain it all at ones. Therefore, I have decided to post six different posts, marking key aspects from the past year in Copenhagen. 

Today I did my first study in Malmö and even if see this is my home city it brought me several surprises. First of all, I had planned to go to a street called Friis Gatan, which is a street with several food places and cute stores, but when I arrived there I found out that the section of the street that I was going to study has been pedestrianized...This technically a good thing according to me but as I was going to use it as my "destination street" it wasn't as great. Because one of my criteria for the "destination streets" is that cars are still allowed. Therefore, I had to quickly change my plan. So, I turned my feet toward Davidshall's square hoping to make it for my 08.00 a clock start.

I did make it and I was looking forward to seeing several people walking by. However, this became my second surprise, as there was almost no one there...Instead, I spend most of the time watching my clock hoping that the time would pass a little bit faster. 

Although, those who did come by were mainly on their bikes, which was another surprise. I used to walk by this square every day during high school and I don't remember there being that many bikes. Instead, I remember it as a place to buy vintage or get a coffee. It might still be that way, but during the morning hours, it seems to have become more of a bike route.

All of these surprises have reminded me that cities can change fast and one should never assume that one knows a place just because one grew up there. Therefore, I'm now even more excited about the study in Malmö and to see what else I can find out about my old home town.

Etiketter: sweden streetact

In terms of reaching the highest percentage of smoking people, Glasgow will definitely be the winner. At least among the cities that I've been studying. A good example of this was today's study. I went to one of those little squares that you can find between office buildings and its prime use was not coffee shopping instead it was smoking. People would sit by themselves and with a cigarette and then go back into work. I'm not entirely sure why there are so much more people smoking in this city, but it is definitely a massive shift from Singapore.

This pattern has also made me wonder if you could encourage/discourage smoking by how you design a city? Or if smoking is too much of a behavioral thing that needs to be worked on in other ways? At the moment I can not give you an answer but I will definitely keep on thinking about that one.

Etiketter: glasgow streetact

By now I have spent a few mornings outside different libraries and I have to say that it is an interesting experience. People gather up before the doors open and make it look as if there is some kind of big event happening. First to arrive are usually a group of homeless, they are followed by some older men (who most likely are there to do research) after that comes the younger crowd (who might be there to study) and last to arrive before the doors open are the moms with a pile of books to return. Why people are eager to be the first to arrive I'm not entirely sure, however, this gathering can easily begin an hour before opening time...

As this is a clear trend I'm actually wondering why people don't do something to make these people's wait more interesting? In Glasgow the doors are wooden so you can not see inside, there is no information for anyone to read and there is not even a bench in the street to sit on. In addition to that, it is a road that has little traffic and therefore could potentially become pedestrianized. I'm simply wondering how come no one does anything to enhance these people's wait. I'm not sure, but maybe this is an opportunity that someone will soon jump on.

Etiketter: glasgow streetact

This morning I did the "green street" study, i.e. a study in a park-like street. As Glasgow doesn't have the exact type of street that I was looking for I went to Kelvingrove Park. It is a long park used by people trying to make shortcuts or looking for a place to hang out. Personally, I mainly use it day time and therefore I have never seen Kelvingrove's rush hour. 

But, now I have and it made me realize that it is a popular bike route in the morning. There were many bikes swooshing by and it actually felt pretty dangerous as there is no actual bike lane. I didn't see any accident but I'm sure there must be weekly ones. After having lived in the city I already knew that it's not a great city to bike in and many of my friends have been in accidents. Therefore, I understand why people choose the park over the roads. Although, in the long run, I don't see it as a solution, so I hope that Glasgow will wake up and put in more bike lanes soon. Or the danger might move from the car streets to the park?

Etiketter: glasgow streetact

To give you a visual of where I am at the moment. Here are a few pictures from around Glasgow.

Etiketter: glasgow photography

Being back in a city where walking is a common way of commuting there are also more headphone filled ears on the sidewalks than in Fort Worth and LA. I have already talked about the pros and cons with this "walk-commuters" habit. However, I have not talked about what you could listen to if you make the decision to use headphones when walking. Therefore, here is a small list of some podcasts and music that I enjoy.


The Urbanist by Monocle Magazine
Between Worlds by Mike Walsh
Säker Stil 
Trettio Plus Trevar

Beach Boys
Bon Iver

It feels great to be back in Europe to do the study. The streets here are full of people and there is simply more to see and think about. Therefore, I am looking forward to this week when I get to focus on my study again.

By now I have completed two studies in Glasgow and I can already tell you that the daily traveling habits here are very different from America. People walk and walk and walk even if it's raining, windy and hilly. Walking is basically a form of commuting and it isn't strange to walk everywhere instead of taking the car. It basically doesn't seem to be much that can stop people from going outside. However, I am hoping that I will get a morning with nice weather soon in order to see if there are more people out on these days or if it stays the same. 

Even if the rain doesn't seem to affect people's behaviors, it has stopped me from taking pictures of my locations. Therefore, I will go out this afternoon to take a few, so stay tuned for some Glasgow pics.
Etiketter: glasgow streetact

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