Tiny Houses: Downsizing The American Dream

In the wake of the housing crisis and Recession, the “American Dream” of a super-sized home in the suburbs has lost its appeal; today, it’s the “tiny house” that seems more aligned with America’s readjusted ideals. and Merete Mueller, a couple out of Colorado, are just one example of people taking the “tiny” leap – they began the construction of their 124 sq ft. home back in 2011, and their journey has been documented in a new film called “TINY: A Story About Living Small,” which premiered on Al Jazeera America last Sunday. 

Law May Render Architects Unnecessary in Spain

Courtesy of NoalaLSP, via Plataforma Arquitectura

As if architects in  weren’t struggling enough – what with the Crisis closing half the country’s studios and putting over 25% of Spanish architects out of work - a new law could now render Spanish architects effectively unnecessary.

A preliminary document reveals that, if passed, The Law of Professional Services (LSP) will modify labor regulations in order to allow engineers, or really any one “competent” in construction, to take on the work of architects:

“Exclusivity is eliminated. Architects or engineers with competency in construction will be able to design and direct projects, including residential, cultural, academic or religious buildings. [...] If a professional is competent enough to execute one building’s construction, it is understood that he/she will also be capable of executing other kinds of buildings, regardless of its intended use.”

Unsurprisingly, Spanish architects have risen up against the law, mobilizing both physical protests as well as social media campaigns. Even Pritzker-Prize winner has offered his opinion on the matter…Hear what Moneo has to say, after the break…

Fideicomiso: When Architects Become Developers (And Everybody Wins)

Once Building, by Adamo-Faiden Architects, crowdfunded via fideicomiso. Image © Cristobal Palma.

A decade before Kickstarter made “” a buzzword (particularly in architecture circles), a similar concept – going by a far more poetic name – was already alive and well in the streets of Buenos Aires.

Fideicomiso is a system of development which gained popularity in Argentina after the financial crisis of 2001; banks crashed, the public grew wary of developers, and a more democratic system of development gained prevalence. Under fideicomiso, the architect himself takes on the risk of development; residents collect their assets and provide them to the architect, who buys the land, funds the project and oversees the design/construction.

Now, Elias Redstone, a researcher who took part in Venice Takeaway (Britain’s Pavilion at last year’s Venice Biennale) and spent time investigating this model in Argentina, has returned to his home country – and is anxious to see if this system could be applied in Recession-struck Britain.

Read more about this revolutionary model of development, after the break…

7 Reasons Architecture (As We Know It) Is Over

Image of ”concept city” via shutterstock.com

Steve Mouzon, a principal of Studio Sky and Mouzon Design, is an architect, urbanist, author, and photographer from Miami. He founded the New Urban Guild, which hosts Project:SmartDwelling and helped foster the Katrina Cottages movement; its non-profit affiliate is the Guild Foundation, which hosts the Original Green initiative

Architecture has changed irreparably in the past decade, but those who know how to adapt just might find themselves in a far better place in a few years. It has now been 8 years since construction peaked in 2005, nearly 6 years since the subprime meltdown, and close to 5 years since the big meltdown that really kicked off the Great Recession.

Today, it appears that construction is finally beginning to pick back up, but it’s too late for architecture as we knew it. Here are seven reasons why…

Why The Recession Was Long Over-Due

Courtesy of Flickr User CC Donna Grayson

Yesterday, we featured an article by Yale faculty member and AutoDesk Vice President, Phil Bernstein, about the increasing opportunities for architecture students graduating in 2013. Today, Scott Simpson, a senior fellow of the Design Futures Council and co-author of the books How Firms Succeed and The Next Architect, offers his perspective on our recovering economy, and what it will mean for architects in the future. 

Simpson starts off by putting the Crisis in perspective: “From 2008 to 2011, the profession took a tremendous hit, both financially and in terms of lost intellectual capital. The old way of doing business is not coming back, nor would we wish for it. [...] Rather than complaining about tough times, let’s start with the realization that many of these changes are long overdue.”

After reviewing what has meant and what we can learn from it, Simpson makes one final, and empowering, claim: “For those willing to take up the challenge, there has never been a more exciting time to be an architect.”

Read all of Simpson’s article, which originally appeared on DesignIntelligence, after the break…

The 7 Things You Need To Know Before Doing Business Abroad

3 of the top 9 countries to find work, according to our reader-led survey: Norway, Panama, and Thailand. Upper left: Oslo by Flickr User CC Peter Guthrie. Bottom left: “Hanoi Traffic” by Flickr User pheochromocytoma. Right: “Revolution Tower, Panamá City, Panamá” by Flickr User CC Chodaboy.

“The word ‘Crisis,’ etymologically speaking, comes from Greek, and means a change of direction, or a new opportunity. That’s the semantic meaning. A change of direction, new opportunities. For me, that’s what crisis means.”

For Xavier Rodriguez, the Crisis wasn’t a stopping point – it was the beginning.

At the first sight of economic trouble, the Catalonian architect  and his colleagues at BR29 Architectes (now BeAt Associates International) decided to pursue a long-time dream and expand abroad. Markets in Europe and the United States were (and remain) decidedly sluggish; by now, almost all architecture firms in have cut down their staff, and about half have closed their doors. Meanwhile, the developing world has seen a surge of growth – and an increasing need for experienced, knowledgeable workers.

Rodriguez, like many architects today, has taken advantage of that need – to considerable success. However, the road hasn’t been easy. While many entertain the idea of pursuing opportunities abroad, there are a few things Rodriguez told us that every architect should know before taking the leap.

Find out what you need to know to be successful abroad, after the break…

The Recessionary Interviews: Spain’s Manuel Ocaña

Manuel Ocaña. Photo © Piedad Sancristóval

The Recession has provoked a variety of responses – disillusionment, frustration, woe. For those not inclined to wallow, however, it has also provided ample time to reflect on (and, if you’re Manuel Ocaña, rip apart) pre-Recession society.

In our Recessionary Interviews, we talk to architects living and working where the Crisis has hit hardest. Last week, we spoke with architect Luis Pedra Silva, who offered us a realistic, and yet optimistic, take on the state of architecture in Portugal.

This week, on the other hand, we bring you an outlook more incendiary than optimistic. Manuel Ocaña, the controversial Spanish architect behind the Manuel Ocaña Architecture and Thought Production Office, is far from impressed with how his home country has handled its economic boom and bust. “,” he says, “used to be a sexy, fit and energetic country. Envy, inferiority complexes, greed, arrogance and pride soaked it in fat. It is currently suffering from moral obesity.”

More on Manuel Ocaña’s take on Spain, including why Spanish architects are no better off than Vampires (or, worse still, MacDonalds employees), after the break…

The Recessionary Interviews: Portugal’s Luis Pedra Silva

Luis Pedra Silva.

When Pritzker-Prize Winner Eduardo Souta de Moura faces unemployment in his own home country, you know things must be bad.

Due to the dissolution of its Parliament in 2005, Portugal has been in economic slow-down even before the 2008 global Recession set in. Factor in , and Portugal’s staggeringly weak economy rivals even Spain’s, making Portugal – along with Greece and Ireland – one of the EU’s “crisis countries.”

For the first of our “Recessionary Interviews,” we spoke with Portuguese architect Luis Pedra Silva, of Pedra Silva Architects, who gave us a first-hand account of the situation, the Darwinian mindset he’s been forced to adopt, and his (he’ll admit) stubbornly optimistic belief that Portuguese architecture, which boasts a particularly plucky history, will survive this crisis to the end.

Read the Complete Interview with Luis Pedra Silva, after the break…

Why Spain’s Crisis Is the End of An Era

Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao inspired cities across Spain to get their own “Guggenheim,” many of which now stand empty/unfinished in the light of the country’s economic crisis. Photo via Flickr User CC Txanoduna

’s ripples have reached far. We, in the midst of a veritable architecture meltdown, can attest to that. But even our situation can’t compare to Spain’s, a country where “the mother of all housing bubbles” meant the Recession didn’t just land – it tsunami-ed onto her shores.

The metaphor may seem overblown, but it’s not so far off. Spain, a country that once stuffed its cities with show-stopping cultural centers, airports, and municipal buildings, has been shocked still.The new Spain is populated with empty high-rises, half-finished “starchitecture,” and plans gathering dust. A quarter of its architects are out of work and about one half of its studios have closed their doors.

Spain, once a beacon for architects across the globe, has hit a standstill.  For the first time in decades, thousands of architects are fleeing its shores. So what does this mean for architecture in Spain – and the world? Has the Recession signified the end of an era? Has the torch of architectural innovation been passed?

In a word? Yes.

Exclusive insight from some of Spain and ’s acclaimed architects, after the break…

Boston: The Least Sucky American City to be An Architect

. Photo via Flickr CC User Raymond Larose.

According to a new survey published in Architect Magazine, Boston is starting to show “encouraging, though not significant, signs of improvement” in its architecture industry. Well, something’s better than nothing, right?

2012 Architectural Survey, conducted by accounting firm CBIZ Tofiasv, found that profit per hour increased from 2010’s $5.54 to $6.89; and the direct labor utilization rate (aka the portion of payroll that pays for income-generating labor, not training, administration, time off, etc.) also increased from last year, which in turn was an improvement over the three previous years.

But it’s not all rosy in Beantown. First of all, the 2011–2012 increase wasn’t huge, and, what’s more, the overhead rate didn’t drop. In 2007, it was $47.27; in 2011, $59.09, reported the Boston Business Journal.

We got flurries of responses when we asked “What’s the best country to find work?” but we didn’t think to ask: “What’s the best American city to find work?”

If these small economic flutterings are anything to go by, could Boston be the answer? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Story via Architect Magazine

What’s the Best Country for Architects to Find Work?

From upper left: “Chicago Thaws Into Spring,” “Bustling Beijing,” “Approaching London” © Flickr User CC Stuck in Commons

Where in the world, as a young architect, would be the best country to find a job in an architecture firm?

In Europe and the United States, has placed Architecture – and Architects – in crisis. However, none have been more affected than young graduates: a report in January reported that, at just under 14%, Architecture Majors can “boast” the highest unemployment rate in the nation.

But surely there is somewhere in the world where the situation isn’t so grim? This is where you come in. When we crowd-sourced the question: “How Much Does an Architect Make An Hour?” the response from hundreds of ArchDaily readers across the globe provoked fascinating conversation and debate. So, as phrased by Rafael Berges, a concerned Architecture student pondering his fate come graduation day:

Where in the world, as a young architect, would be the best country to find a job in an architecture firm?

Keep in mind:

1. The highest salaries for beginning architects
2. Low unemployment for architects
3. High demand for architecture
4. Great design culture

And let us know in the comments below.

UPDATE: See the results here

After the Meltdown: Where does Architecture go from here?

© Megan Jett

You can get into Architecture for one of two reasons: good architecture or bad.

For Cameron Sinclair, the co-founder of Architecture for Humanity, it was the latter. As a kid, Sinclair would wander his rough-and-tumble South London neighborhood, contemplating how it could be improved (and creating elaborate Lego models to that effect). Instead of soaring skyscrapers or grand museums, he was inspired by buildings that “integrated your neighborhood in a way that made people feel like life was worth living.”

But that’s not Architecture. Or so he was told when he went to University.

Architecture Schools have created curriculums based on a profession that, by and large, doesn’t exist. They espouse the principles of architectural design, the history and the theory, and prepare its hopeful alumni to create the next Seagram Building or Guggenheim.

Unfortunately, however, has made perfectly clear that there isn’t much need for Guggenheims – certainly not as many as there are architects. As Scott Timberg described in his Salon piece, “The Architectural Meltdown,” thousands of thousands are leaving the academy only to enter a professional “minefield.”

So what needs to change? Our conception of what Architecture is. We need to accept that Architecture isn’t just designing – but building, creating, doing. We need to train architects who are the agents of their own creative process, who can make their visions come to life, not 50 years down the road, but now. Today.

We’ve been trained to think, to envision and design. The only thing left then, is to do.

More on the public-interest model and the future of Architecture, after the break…