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2018 > 08

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. 

Etiketter: architecture, copenhagen



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