We play how we train – “Martyrs for the Art”

It’s a saying that’s applied to all walks of life and when thinking about is hugely appropriate to architecture, perhaps for all the wrong reasons. Get used to the long hours at school because the real world isn’t much better, is that what students really want to hear? Breeding a martyr for the art culture within architectural education has destroyed the real world architectural industry[i], people always get the impression that we study so long, for relatively little pay and have long hours with huge sacrifices to personal lives, and the truth is, their mostly right.

Image Source: https://caccstudiov.com/2010/10/03/what-did-i-learn-in-architecture-school/

Depending on the way you look at it, as students we are optimistic about the future. Most of the time we live in the present thinking that once we graduate that will be the end of the “all-nighter” culture and grind of studio submissions because it gives us something to look forward too[ii]. But look a bit wider into the lovely thing called the internet, and even your work experience, you’ll find its not always the case. Why is it this way? Its education.

“At Uni we are trained to feel guilty to take a break. The first thing studio teachers will say to you is you need to spend a minimum of 20 hours a week outside of studio on your projects…”

Image Source: http://portico.space/journal//time-workload-expectations-at-architecture-school

It is that sense of guilt installed that creates a workaholic culture that is long lasting. They are plenty of resources out there that try to at-least bring attention to this is issue of workload at Uni but the problem is mental health issues aren’t merely a periodical university issue. It keeps going until sooner or later its going to result in a downturn or recession in health.

In speaking with the director of Plus Architecture – Patric Przeradzki, he elaborates that its not so much something that he has dealt with personally, but has seen amongst graduates coming through, generally those born in the 80s and 90s. He suggests that the increased demands of the course have created a workaholic culture, and this is how they operate coming into the firm, without even being asked. “It’s a technological issue, an education issue and a communication issue.” He suggests that you would think that the younger generation would be more inclined to communicate about personal issues with all the resources available to them, but the problem is, it actually does the opposite.[iii] “I’ve seen graduates come in and are afraid to ask for help which leaves them in the dark, I get more questions via email then I do in person in the office, from people in the office and this disconnect simply isn’t good for mental capability.”


Multitasking and a self-inflicted workload of a Gen Y Image Source:


Architecture is built upon an ideology of long hours and demanding work and I feel as though the situation is getting worse not better as students have access to more ways of doing things and potentially quicker ways. They are expected to produce far more, and far better-quality work and it carries on to the workplace. Furthermore, the high expectations and stresses of the industry are emphasised by the very fact that –

“Architects aren’t trained at tertiary level as business people, that’s something that comes with experience and that maybe over a 30-year period”[iv]

That is a significant problem, we don’t get rewarded for the work we do because we don’t ask for that reward and don’t market ourselves appropriately. Architecture is a profession that requires a vast amount of pro-bono work and that encourages a mindset of questioning whether what your doing is worth it. That questioning is something that stays in workplace forever and can lead to negative health issues of self- doubt, anxiety and in turn depression. The ironic thing though, out of all this is, “deep down part of us all secretly love the late nights, busy schedule and workload, and maybe that’s what makes us Architects, not accounts.”[v][vi]




[i] Stott, Rory. “For and against All – nighter culture: Archdaily readers respond” Archdaily. April 7, 2015. https://www.archdaily.com/616567/for-and-against-all-nighter-culture-archdaily-readers-respond

[ii] Bills, A., interviewed by James Rietveld, 2018, UWA, Perth

[iii] Przeradzki, P., interviewed by James Rietveld, 2018, Plus Architecture, Perth

[iv] Ibid

[v] Stott, Rory. “For and against All – nighter culture: Archdaily readers respond” Archdaily. April 7, 2015. https://www.archdaily.com/616567/for-and-against-all-nighter-culture-archdaily-readers-respond

[vi] Mairs, Jessica. “Architecture schools need to teach entrepreneurship” Dezeen. July 20, 2016. https://www.dezeen.com/2016/07/20/architects-need-to-become-more-entrepreneurial-says-odile-decq-news-architecture/