Exporting Architecture VS Exporting Architects/João Azougado

The luxury goods aren’t duty free. By João Azougado

Today Portugal has 2 Pritzker Prize winners and more than 20 000 registered architects adding up to the dozens of architecture schools sending out to the market hundreds of skilled young people each year.

The Portuguese Order of The Architects reports that more than one third of the architects are looking for a job and, if the focus is just on juniors, the rate climbs up to 40%.

The scenario is dark and nobody sees a way of brightening it up.

Famous architects like Souto de Moura have said in public events that architects should move away from Portugal and find new markets, either in the Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa, America and Asia or in the German-speaking regions in Europe. However, others defend that architects should stay in Portugal and try to sell their ultra specialized and cheap services to those countries.

These two visions could be synthesized in two words: emigrating or exporting.

According to the Portuguese Prime-Minister and to some other members of the Portuguese Government, the political reaction to this problems (and to all the other ones!), is emigration and exportation.

Portuguese people are known for being pacific good listeners and they are seriously following the authorities’ advice.

The Portuguese particular way of doing architecture is generally well appreciated, but the country just hasn’t the money to build and now can’t borrow easily anymore from the exterior – so, let’s face it.

The results of the last analysis made by the Portuguese Statistics Center reveal that exportations have increased more than 9%, mainly due to selling of oil and gold in addition to a massive consumption contraction. This contraction is having immediate negative effects in real estate market as well as in other bigger consumption acts, seriously affecting the careers of architects.

Even though architects are not considered in the exportation statistics, because they are not «things» neither «services», is Portugal exporting more architects, rather than exporting architecture services?

How can the fact of migration influence positively the economy and the culture of the country which loses educated and skilled professionals? Unless it is seen as a gigantic propaganda movement, where each architect is a single agent to promote the country’s architecture abroad, Portugal just looses from this unbalanced relation.

Thus, should the solution be to put a stamp on the architects’ forehead, to add their Portuguese architecture school certificate attesting their quality, to place them in a container and to ship them somewhere else, preferably very far away? If so, do not forget to pay all the customs duty – these architects are luxury goods (and costed way too much to produce)

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Una respuesta a “Exporting Architecture VS Exporting Architects/João Azougado

  1. In english… to follow suit.
    The problem – we reduce it to one problem, as a mere convinience, even if it isn’t so – is the disbelief in the exports of services. And, purely in a strict economic sense, architecture is a service. Architects transform realities, they don’t transform goods, they don’t make exportable goods.
    For the sake of balance sheet’s, the thing to matter seem’s to be the transaction-able, or exportable, goods. They seem to make us look good. If that makes us live better, is a completely different thing.
    That’s what you get from the inertia of governments, when we insist on the ability of portuguese architects to export and they don’t give a shit!
    But, i do belief there is a catch. And the catch is: the guys which are lending the money don’t want us in their markets.
    After making us give up industry, for the sake of a service base economy, they are pulling the magic carpet. They are saying: we won you guys.
    The sorrow thing is to acknowledge that portuguese governments don’t even question the fact.


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