Part-time, baby!

A manifesto for the new economy.

Not a lot has been happening on Svensk Standard in the last months and for that we apologize. Since we’ve all been full-time practicing architects the last nine months, there hasn’t been much time for updates or independent productions. Global recession, however, is about to change all that and as our employers ask us if it would be possible for us to work part-time to ease the losses (perhaps we’ll even lose our jobs) we reply:

Hell yeah!

I know, recession is hitting hard on a lot of people right now, it’s no joking matter. It’s been tearing around the financial sector for half a year, the auto industry (Saab, we’ll miss you) is going down and by now it has spread out practically everywhere.

The architectural professions are usually among the first to suffer; when there is no money the first thing to get cancelled are those fancy new headquarters or those cool sofas you were gonna get for your living room. The clients stops calling and the architects get really moody. Because when there is a recession nothing happens.

But that is all wrong. This is when all the great things happen.

No one does anything exiting when the economy is doing well. When all that money is spinning around. We get employed, we get lazy. We go to our different offices and sit down at our desks, turn on the computer, open up outlook and wait for what the day will bring or what kind of interesting project the next phone call will offer.

Aesthetics and thought seem to suffer as well during the boom. When everything is happening super fast no one has time for reflection and great potential is reduced to cheesy one-liners (this one is for you Bjarke). Even worse, those cheesy one-liners seem to the rest of us to be viable solutions. For a moment we actually thought that stacking all those small apartments in cliché shapes of mountains or zigzag ridges were cool. And an entire generation of architecture students (and offices that’ve been around for a while but wants to freshen up their image) will now waste their energy speaking in shallow punch lines instead of searching deep as they should be. And if you were ever to criticize it, some one will say “but what about the boring stuff that you are creating?” or “just because you have a weblog with a punk name doesn’t mean you can debase others who are actually BUILDING their work”.

In general, that seems to be the most frequent argument promoting this kind of architecture – that it got built – especially in Sweden. Since the common stuff that’s produced here is of such poor quality the slightest break in this tedious flow is considered art. And the excuse is always: “Well, at least they’re doing something”. As if the real judge of our work isn’t our own full potential but the laziness of our peers.

We’re all guilty. We got carried away, got fat and lazy. No point in pushing the blame around anymore. The boom is over. But already, great things are happening.

The reason is simple. The obstacle that Paul Virilio once wrote about, the one that would unite the pacified inhabitants of our modern cities in struggle, has been found and it turned out it wasn’t a wall. Not even sloping plane.

We don’t have anything to lose anymore. We’ve hit rock bottom and the only way is up.

And what a sweet ride it will be!

Svensk Standard / Rutger