I am an Architect, but don’t spread the word

I have been beset with a doubt during last month: when have architects turned into laughable characters?

Everything started when I went to the Italian registry office to renew my passport.

When they asked me what my job was, I answered full of proud “Architect”.

 The conversation was more or less this:

Employee: “Oh, Architect? Wow, so do you really design houses?”

Me: “No, not really, I mainly design stations and airports, you know, transport projects”

Employee: “Ohhh” (showing clear disappointment)  

Me: “Well, you know, someone has to do the dirty work”

He clearly didn’t get the sarcasm.

Employee: “But would you be able to design a house?”

Me: “I guess so, I am still an architect after all…”

Employee: “Mariaaaa” – shouting to her colleague- “do you want a new house? We have an architect here”

Maria: “I’ve got no money, would she do it for free?”

Me (starting to have a twitch in my eye) : “Of course. Eh eh eh….very funny…Now, just please put a stamp on my passport because I need it to go back to UK”.

This funny sketch made me think. Yes, they were lovely people, very entertaining, but  a question suddenly came to  my mind: would  they do the same with a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer? I mean, all these jobs requiring  a title? And the answer I gave to myself was sadly: No, they wouldn’t do the same.  

So when have we architects stopped to be decent professionals and turned into laughable characters?  Was it when some Italian architects ended up being investigated for corruption? Well no, normally in Italy if you are a lawbreaker, you are considered a very respectable person, you can even become Prime Minister.

I really don’t understand when it happened , there must be a moment in history when something cracked and the architectural tradition felt into a general conspiracy (Maybe the engineer lobby? It may be a theory).

Anyways, in this post I have many questions and no answers. If you have any clue, give me a shout.



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Space, Form, Words is an initiative started by Silvia Polito, Ciriaco Castro and Enrique Ramos as a multilingual, open canvas for thoughts, images and ideas on architecture, art, design, video, and every sort of creative process in general

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