An optimistic “Work/Life/Work Balance” by Anthony Ling

The infamous decorative construction hat from Joshua Prince-Ramus's "Building a theater that remakes itself" TED Talk. - Joshua Prince-Ramus: "We can only blame ourselves."

São Paulo-based architect Anthony Ling has shared with us his perspective on Andrew Maynard’s recent article “Work/life/work balance”. Maynard’s article was extremely popular as it discussed some of the industries most controversial issues surrounding exploitative and exclusionary working practices. Although Ling agrees with many of Maynard’s points, he disagrees with the logic of Maynard’s two options for attaining a good work/life balance – (1) taking the risk of going broke and start your own practice or (2) leave the profession. Greatly inspired by Joshua Prince-Ramus, Ling proposes a solution that focuses on the creation of more business-minded, medium-sized practices.

By reading ’s critique on today’s architectural workplace I could share his feelings and his rage towards the top-down management system run by many corporate architecture firms and the poor environment most architects work in. I couldn’t agree more that architecture is not as romantic as one sees it, and people who decide to embrace the field should know that. He is also right on by saying that a small percentage of time is spent on creative work and that architecture isn’t the highest paying profession, but I think most people who decide to enter the business already know about this last one. Although his ideas are inspiring and even agreeing with part of his solution to the problem, I think his logic is wrong.

Work/life/work balance by Andrew Maynard

Courtesy of Architects

Australian architect Andrew Maynard, co-director of Andrew Maynard Architects, has shared with us his article “Work/life/work balance”, published first on Parlour. “Many women leave the profession due to the difficult combination of poor work cultures, long hours and low pay. But these conditions affect everyone – women and men – as well as the viability of the profession as a whole. Andrew Maynard sets out the issues and challenges the profession to end exploitative and exclusionary working practices.”

It is time for architectural work practices to grow up. We must stop deluding ourselves that architectural employees are anything other than a contemporary exploited labor force.

Epicurus argued that humans needed only three things in life to be happy – friends, freedom and an analyzed life. All evidence indicates that Epicurus had a rather good time while he was around. Now he is dead. I wonder if Epicurus became a senior associate at Philosopher & Associates Pty Ltd before he died? Surely this was a priority. Does contemporary architectural employment deny us our happiness; our friends, freedom and the opportunity for an analyzed life? Many would argue that being employed in architecture and the pursuit of happiness are irreconcilable. It can reasonably be argued that most architects, and almost all recent graduates, are working in conditions that are unhealthy, unsustainable and exploitative.

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