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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