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"There is a lack of sincere conversations and joint solutions to problems." Hugon Kowalski on the condition of the architectural profession

13 of May '22

statement fromA&B 04 | 2022 issue

This statement will be from the perspective of a person who runs a small office, dealing with architecture, interiors, exhibitions, objects and space. If it weren't for interiors, I have no idea how I would run an office dealing only with architecture, and that's sad.

A year ago I set myself the task of turning the worst elements, such as meetings at construction sites, offices and proving to us that we don't know anything about anything, into positive things. To this day, however, I have not found a way to do this. We are also not an office that pushes irrational functional-economic ideas at all costs; rather, we believe that investors should be helped.

Terrace with lakeside house

Photo: Alexandra Timpan (Alex Shoots Buildings) © UGO design studio

Problems in the architectural profession:

  1. The amount of wages vs. the scope of studies - each studio prices differently, the investor does not know what he wants and needs, prices increase at every stage (materials, scope of construction), except for one item - the price for the project;
  2. Lack of predictability of the duration of the design-administration process;
  3. Clashing with the mundane absurdities at various levels - investor, office, regulations;
  4. Implementing sad projects with the knowledge of the environmental situation, with the fact that in the end it doesn't matter anyway;
  5. Architectural competitions - with understated budgets for tasks in order to pay less for the project, with no certainty of implementation and an abstract contract; the upside is a break from daily obligations;
  6. Problems with availability and unstable prices of components in construction;
  7. Rising interest rates affect the abandonment of projects - house construction/apartment purchase by potential investors, which in turn affects the entire industry;
  8. Abandonment of quality in the finishing of the building - substitutions introduced at the execution stage to reduce the cost of implementation affect the result, which often deviates from the expected;
  9. Errors in the provisions of the local plan that prevent qualitative design;
  10. Unification of architecture - to such an extent that one has the impression that anyone could draw it, for example, office buildings: height of 25 meters, projection matched to the parking grid, simple mass and risers adjusted to the fire safety regulations, end of the project;
  11. Pretensions - often the result of disagreements over the project or lack of awareness of what the architect is responsible for or paid for; Investor - contractor - offices: should there be one common code and model contracts?
  12. Opaque rules of the game in offices - lack of team play and often a simple explanation of what is involved and what is the problem?
  13. Uncertainty about the liquidity of the office;
  14. Wasting lives - commitment, intellectual work, winning little wars, giving up vacations in exchange for time spent on projects that will not be completed;
  15. Lack of partnership;
  16. The feeling that the time and passion one puts into it would, in any other industry, secure a completely different position than the one we have now;
  17. If one cares and is the sensitive type, I don't recommend this profession - there are a few things in life that are important, and the rest are unimportant things;
  18. Attacking externally and internally;
  19. Finding unpaid completed projects and being reminded to settle the outstanding project service;
  20. The feeling that I have forty summer vacations ahead of me to waste on work when the time comes that the rainy days until the end become countable.

Many industries certainly have similar problems, but no one speaks them out loud, and there is a lack of frank discussions and joint solutions to problems.



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