On Work

  1. new welfare, or not.

    On 26th Octo­ber 2015 we have been invited to express our anger at a con­fer­ence held at the Boc­coni uni­ver­sity in Milan, on the sub­ject of the uncer­tain, shift­ing world of free­lance work­ers. We are happy to report that our ideas have been dis­missed as ide­o­log­i­cal and provoca­tive by the pres­i­dent of INPS.

    We hope he did not mean it in a good way.


  2. Backstage

    backstage head

    On the 9th of June 2015, the fierce team that man­ages Gizmo organ­ised at Politec­nico in Milan a sym­po­sium with an ambi­tious title: Back­stage, Archi­tec­ture as con­crete prac­tice.
    Incau­tiously they invited Mul­ti­tude to present the find­ings pub­lished with On Work. And so we did, spark­ing what could only be described as the first sign of a quite revolution.


  3. Motivation

    Michel de Klerk - Spaarndammerplantsoen

    While I always felt archi­tec­ture should sur­pass the purely func­tional and aes­thetic, this idea became stronger over the years. (more…)

  4. Amplifier #0000

    on Work NEW

    This first issue of Ampli­fier col­lects the heroic efforts of young archi­tects to ignite a rev­o­lu­tion dur­ing their spare hours.

    The author of the attempt is 18Oktoberdam, a tem­po­rary col­lec­tive of young archi­tects who met in Decem­ber 2011 in an attic apart­ment some­where in the West of Rot­ter­dam.
    Most of them were work­ing for low salaries, despite, they claimed, their tal­ent and ded­i­ca­tion. They were, and still are, deter­mined to change things.

    18Oktoberdam orga­nized an online sur­vey to gather infor­ma­tion on work­ing con­di­tions in the field of Archi­tec­ture. The result (170+ entries) is a show­case of indi­vid­u­als who have strug­gled to find a way in a mutat­ing mar­ket. Their sto­ries come as a wake-up call to all work­ers in the field. (more…)

  5. Haze


    The ele­va­tor got stuck between the 32nd and the 33rd floor.
    35 min­utes had already passed. A voice from the speak­ers said that the per­son­nel was sorry for the incon­ve­nience and that he had just to keep calm and to kindly wait until the tech­ni­cians would have fixed the prob­lem, there was noth­ing to worry about, “you-are-safe-sir”. There was a lit­tle beep and then the music started over again: it was a never end­ing loop of three Celine Dion’s songs of which he was unin­ten­tion­ally mem­o­riz­ing part of the lyrics.

    The ele­va­tor was one of those glass cap­sule designed in the 80s, with a dark gray moquette and some blue light spots in the false ceil­ing. From there he could look at the city sky­line and at the lit­tle white sails ran­domly scat­tered between the island and the cost of the hazy bay.The air-conditioning sys­tem had stopped work­ing with the black-out and it was start­ing to get warmer. He unknot­ted the tie and he sat on the floor look­ing down at the peo­ple walk­ing on the side­walks and at the cars start­ing and stop­ping at the cross­road. He could also see his fixie, that he had locked in front of the star­bucks at the cor­ner of the street. He was happy that it was still there.
    His iPhone started vibrat­ing in his pocket, it was his mother. He waited a bit, star­ing at the screen, then he decided to answer:


  6. Network



    1. Spon­ta­neous asso­ci­a­tion of per­sons united for polit­i­cal or trade union.
    2. In a party or a trade union, a group of per­sons with liaisons out­side of the party, who deal with a spe­cific topic or issue.


  7. A proposal for the demise of open architectural competitions

    The com­pe­ti­tion is mostly seen as a free and egal­i­tar­ian way of express­ing diverse ideas. How­ever, what often hap­pens is that open archi­tec­tural com­pe­ti­tions place stress upon the frag­ile economies of small archi­tec­tural firms.
    What is even worse is that such com­pe­ti­tions favor the exploita­tion of interns because, if the entry is unsuc­cess­ful, no reim­burse­ment is given to the participants.

    When a small prac­tice wants to enter a com­pe­ti­tion, it will have to use interns to reduce the costs of the pro­duc­tion needed for the sub­mis­sion, trig­ger­ing a sit­u­a­tion of exploita­tion when interns are forced to work up to 80 or 90 hours per week. In gen­eral, an open com­pe­ti­tion should not require too much time and effort from its par­tic­i­pants, nor should it impose intri­cate restrictions.

    Some open com­pe­ti­tions have become lottery-like events, receiv­ing thou­sands of entries.

    In addi­tion, many com­pe­ti­tions impose rules which deprive the archi­tects of any intel­lec­tual copy­right on their own sub­mis­sion. This is the ulti­mate con­tra­dic­tion, espe­cially when the archi­tect has to pay a fee to par­tic­i­pate. Too many neg­a­tive aspects are over­shad­ow­ing open com­pe­ti­tions despite the excite­ment and good will of many architects.

  8. The misuse of the internship contract

    Look­ing at the out­put of the sur­vey, and in par­tic­u­lar, the aver­age wage and work hours, the results appear to be in line with the law. How­ever, by care­fully read­ing the sta­tis­tics, a more alarm­ing phe­nom­e­non can be rec­og­nized:
    31% of inter­vie­wees belong to the group of grad­u­ated archi­tects (hold­ing a mas­ter or higher degree) work­ing under an intern­ship agree­ment or sub­jected to under-the-table agree­ments involv­ing no con­tract.
    By focus­ing on the par­tic­u­lars of this 31%, one dis­cov­ers that the great major­ity (86%) of archi­tects have com­pleted at least one or more years of work expe­ri­ence in the field of archi­tec­ture. This rep­re­sents the most con­tro­ver­sial find­ing of the sur­vey, since it under­lines a grow­ing trend, which is the weak­en­ing of the power of labor.

    Within the realm of archi­tec­tural prac­tices (from one-man com­pa­nies up to multi­na­tion­als) there exists a need to re-define con­trac­tual con­di­tions and methods/modalities of prac­tice in order to re-establish the dig­nity of the workers.

    In a moment of eco­nomic, polit­i­cal and cul­tural cri­sis it is unlikely to secure work­ers by adopt­ing tra­di­tional means.
    Assum­ing it is impos­si­ble for the labor mar­ket to pro­vide sta­bil­ity, being flex­i­ble remains the way to go for most of the companies.

    How­ever, what should a worker do? Is it pos­si­ble for a worker to achieve a (/n eco­nomic) bal­ance by means of flex­i­bil­ity?!
    How can a per­son pro­vide for his/her future when hav­ing to jump from one tem­po­rary con­tract to another , quite pos­si­bly incur­ring long peri­ods of unemployment?

  9. The reasons


    Seem­ingly a naïf ques­tion, it instead addresses one of the most unpal­pap­ble, unwrit­ten dis­putes on prac­tic­ing Archi­tec­ture: The hid­den agenda. The plan for the future. It is, in a way, the: “what do you want to be as a grown up” kind of ques­tion. (more…)

  10. Survey


    18Oktoberdam is a tem­po­rary col­lec­tive of young archi­tects who met in Decem­ber 2011 in an attic apart­ment some­where in the West of Rot­ter­dam.
    Most of them were work­ing for low salaries, despite, they claimed, their tal­ent and ded­i­ca­tion. They were deter­mined to change things.


  11. What Architect stands for in 201x

    In the Euro­pean Con­ti­nent the role of the archi­tect has dete­ri­o­rated dur­ing the last decade; from tak­ing a seat at the polit­i­cal ‘table’ of Europe, archi­tects have dropped (in the best cases) to the posi­tion of make-up artists for devel­op­ers.
    The large com­mis­sions given by gov­ern­ments have ended, demar­cat­ing the end of archi­tects’ involve­ment as pub­lic intel­lec­tual figures.

    Nowa­days, archi­tects have become either extremely global or extremely local. This means that one can work from Ams­ter­dam design­ing a build­ing in Brazil or South Korea, or one can oper­ate in Antwerp only fol­low­ing local projects.

    More­over, the new gen­er­a­tion has become inter­ested in inter­dis­ci­pli­nary col­lab­o­ra­tions and small assign­ments (tem­po­rary instal­la­tions, small exhi­bi­tions, inte­ri­ors, teach­ing), as a strat­egy to reach eco­nomic independence.

    There is a new pro­fes­sional trend that can be iden­ti­fied; aside from con­ven­tional prac­tice, young archi­tects are start­ing to design, real­ize and sell diverse prod­ucts, thus invad­ing the field of small-scale prod­uct design.

    This direct approach to design, pro­duc­tion and sale allows them to max­i­mize profit, espe­cially when this involves small, rel­a­tively afford­able prod­ucts.
    This process can hap­pen with­out inter­me­di­aries and ren­ders the archi­tect both entrepreneur/producer and trader: the new cre­ative craftsman.


Latest Comments


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

2017-08-06 12:09:32

Hello admin, i must say you have very interesting content here. Your website can go viral. You need initial traffic boost only. How to get it? Search for; Mertiso's tips go viral

multitude- multitude

on Survey

2015-04-01 13:27:31

[…] the spon­ta­neous responses to the last ques­tion of the sur­vey car­ried out in […]

Conrad Newel

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

Conrad Newel

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

2015-03-23 16:45:07

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.


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

2015-03-23 16:33:21

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

Conrad Newel

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

2015-03-23 15:54:17

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


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

2015-03-23 12:15:26

@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.

multitude- multitude

on Amplifier #0000

2015-03-23 00:27:29

[…] On Work […]


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

2015-03-22 18:00:15

@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 :)


on Survey

2015-03-22 17:52:22

brilliant, thanks a lot.

Conrad Newel

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

2015-03-22 11:32:20

Hi 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. http://famousarchitect.blogspot.com/2015/02/103-unpopular-proposal-argument-for-why.html 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.

Robert Shimer

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

2015-03-20 22:04:47

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

Starchitecte cherche stagiaire exploitable et corvéable à merci. | L'Abeille et l'Architecte

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

2015-03-19 11:40:20

[…] par le site Multitiude, en novembre 2013, mais ressortie des tréfonds d’internet cette semaine, une […]

Colt Sievers

on Survey

2015-03-18 14:27:32

Hi Agata, the survey ended up in a digital publication that is available online on ISSUU, below the link: http://issuu.com/multitude/docs/amp_0000_2014