12+ h. a day, 6/7 days a week

- edit on 21.03.2015 -

we have been asked to remove the screen­shot of the out­ra­geous email sent by a promi­nent Japan­ese firm because it “pun­ishes the mes­sen­ger rather than the office who made these rules.”

Although we don’t agree, we com­plied with the request.

Our atten­tion is not on the project archi­tect who sent the email, he prob­a­bly used a tem­plate and had to apply rules decided by the office man­age­ment. Our goal, instead, is to trig­ger a crit­i­cal debate and raise aware­ness on the work dynam­ics of the cre­ative indus­try. Famous archi­tects can be con­sid­ered pub­lic fig­ures, and more so if they have been awarded the pres­ti­gious Pritzker Price. Some even act as trans­ver­sal intel­lec­tu­als and cover insti­tu­tional posi­tions; Because of their pub­lic pro­file, they have great respon­si­bil­ity for what they do — both within and out­side the office walls.

We won­der how could any­body per­form a cre­ative work under con­stant phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal pres­sure? How can we design for the peo­ple, if we never meet any? By instill­ing the idea that work in Archi­tec­ture should be a 24/7 affair, the very source of the pro­fes­sion is under­mined. Adopt­ing this come-work-for-free pol­icy, offices not only abuse the basic civil rights of stu­dents and young grad­u­ates, but they also take an unfair advan­tage over their com­peti­tors. They influ­ence the mar­ket and raise gen­er­a­tions of frus­trated practitioners.

And this is exactly why the email caused so much emo­tion. We jump off our socks when read­ing it, but we also accept that Archi­tec­ture should be made with uncon­di­tional sac­ri­fice. It is time to debate the rules of this mar­ket, the ethics and goals of our profession.

It is also impor­tant to men­tion that we, the young, ambi­tious and under­paid, should be the first to real­ize the value of our work and the value of our time. The pyra­mi­dal struc­ture of the archi­tec­ture office is out­dated, you don’t learn from this mas­ters more than you can learn from your network.

Here you can find the com­plete On Work

Gmail - internship

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10 thoughts on “12+ h. a day, 6/7 days a week

  1. Conrad Newel says:

    @Colt Siev­ers
    I will be the first to agree with you on all counts. I would love to read that arti­cle. If you ever want to pub­lish it on my blogg please do not hes­i­tate to con­tact me.

  2. Colt Sievers says:


    hav­ing worked in one of those offices that you men­tion, I have found your post as much provoca­tive as naïve and sim­plis­tic. I should make an entire post to explain why… will leave that for later.
    Thanks, any­way, to keep the dis­cus­sion alive

  3. Conrad Newel says:

    I think you are miss­ing my spe­cific sense of humor as agata pointed out. :)

    1. slartibartfast says:

      right… irony or sar­casm in non-audible com­mu­ni­ca­tion… a class of its own.

    2. Conrad Newel says:

      Besides my ter­ri­ble dic­tion or lack thereof this raises another issue.
      Should we really feel out­rage or sym­pa­thy for these interns?
      After all the ones who can afford to take these kind of jobs are the sons and daugh­ters of the wealthy.
      What this let­ter is, is infact sym­bolic cap­i­tal and social sig­nif­i­cance for sale.
      The rich kid can buy this piece of sig­nif­i­cance for among other rea­sons to go to a party and say to his less afflu­ent coun­ter­part, “hey I work for SANAA, or DS+R or who­ever. Where do you work again?”

      Its a sta­tus sym­bol, just like a porsche, or a pri­vate jet. Afford­able to a selected few that can afford it.

  4. Robert Shimer says:

    I hope the appli­cant replied, thanks for noth­ing I can starve at home , and I doubt I would learn that much there except how to take advan­tage of oth­ers for my per­sonal gain. I hope to pro­vide my archi­tec­ture as art to make the world a bet­ter place, not make my self rich on the backs of others

    1. Conrad Newel says:


      This is Con­rad Newel.

      The ques­tion should be why would this project man­ager think that any­one would want to take a job under such hor­ren­dous conditions?

      There are in fact lots of com­pelling reasons!

      The econ­omy of the star­chi­tec­ture pro­fes­sion is such that value is not just sim­ply a mat­ter of money in exchange for labor.

      There is sym­bolic value in work­ing for a firm like SAANA. They know it, the hun­dreds of stu­dents that bom­bard them with CV’s ask­ing for intern­sips know it, the whole archi­tec­ture pro­fes­sion knows it. So this should not be as draw drop­ping as every­one seem to be mak­ing it out to be.

      There is a whole cul­ture and sys­tem of sym­bolic val­ues that made such a sit­u­a­tion and such an email pos­si­ble. And every­one is cul­pa­ble here, from the peo­ple who award the pres­ti­gious prizes, the schools that invite and cel­e­brate star­chi­tects, the mag­a­zines that pub­lish them, and the cen­ters of archi­tec­tures around the world that put their works on a pedestal.

      I wrote more about it here in this post.

      I am play­ing devil’s advo­cate here with tongue firmly in cheek.
      But it out­lines some of the more com­pelling rea­sons why this is a fanat­i­cally attrac­tive offer for any stu­dent who wants to assim­i­late the world of high architecture.

      And until this cul­ture changes, this event will be a tem­po­rary glip of out­rage until another star­chi­tect firm gets care­less and makes another fuck up of an email.

    2. agata says:

      @Conrad is this arti­cle you wrote on unpaid interns for real or do you just have very spe­cific sense of humour? Same with your sex­ist arti­cle on female archi­tects. Hope­fully you are joking :)

    3. slartibartfast says:

      @Conrad Newel
      You are draw­ing quite a career minded sce­nario there in your post­ing, in an imag­i­na­tive world of glam­our and star­dom. If this image is, what keeps your engine dri­ving… fine.
      Oth­ers might have dif­fer­ent moti­va­tions work­ing in this pro­fes­sion, than brag­ging at a party about ones ‘cool’ employer.
      Isn’t archi­tec­ture about social issues in the first place, rather than build­ing sky­scrap­ers in Dubai?
      If interns are con­tribut­ing to an offices work­force and thereby to its suc­cess, they should be com­pen­sated accord­ingly, at least to cover bare exis­ten­tial needs, such as rent and food.
      Sim­ple thing.

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on 12+ h. a day, 6/7 days a week

2015-03-23 18:10:56

@Colt Sievers I will be the first to agree with you on all counts. I would love to read that article. If you ever want to publish it on my blogg please do not hesitate to contact me.

Colt Sievers

on 12+ h. a day, 6/7 days a week

2015-03-23 16:58:10

@Conrad having worked in one of those offices that you mention, I have found your post as much provocative as naive and simplistic. I should make an entire post to explain why... will leave that for later. Thanks, anyway, to keep the discussion alive