16 HOURS PER DAY IN FRONT OF A SCREEN BECAUSE “IS WHAT ARCHITECTS DO” IS WRONG
We Started Enzyme APD almost two years ago. During this period we have been doing huge amount of projects and loosing a lot before getting them. Learning to run a business is tough and we realised how as Architects we had no clue about it.
You may realise how “simpler” your working day used to be when you had only to take care of one project when working for somebody else. You make it happen and you get paid, simple. If you and your team are efficient you leave office on time. If not you stay overnight, simple. Now me and my partners do admin, accounting, social media, articles for this blog, marketing, business development, organising and managing BIM templates and process of work, coordinate with clients and contractors.. and of course, we need to do projects at least some hours during the day, right? Not that simple.
Personally I have been always obsessed with being efficient. Something that architects usually are not good at. In any office I worked before any time I said something about not staying late because the process or strategy was not efficient, everyone around me looked at me smiling and saying: well, we are architects we do overnight and there is nothing to do about it. NOT true.
If I am doing a project over night because there was no other chance to do it before it could be the case sometimes. If you want to stay overnight because you wanna do your masterpiece makes sense if you have the passion. If you want me to stay overnight doing something that I do in two hours in my kitchen with my laptop by myself.. well then Jorge Beneitez and I will start thinking of creating Enzyme APD (APD stands for Architecture Process Design).
Me and my Co-Founder partner wanted to get things done in a way sometimes our colleagues didn’t want to think about. I have worked with admirable great designers hand to hand and I have learned so much in my previous jobs. But I hate seeing people giving up at 4 am on Sunday saying look, whatever.. I want to sleep.
We really care about the Process to make the best architecture and have a time to have your eyes far from your screen from time to time.. Which usually makes you happy and willing to make more project. And if in you spare time you want to still work in your projects then you are more than welcome of course. But spending 15 hours per day in front of a scree because “is what we Architects do” is wrong.
THE ARCHIPRENEUR CONCEPT: ARCHITECT ENTREPRENEUR
Why are we so annoying about BIM? We started using it in university in a natural way and integrated in our daily process, so for us see the benefits was very easy. It basically helps to develop a project in a more efficient way saving a huge amount of errors. Is as simple as that. Why do not use it then? Well for us is also something else. I always talk with my Architects friends about saving time, spending more time designing than “monkeycading”. For us using ARCHICAD allowed us to make Enzyme happen.
You see when you want to do your own projects and take care of the company you simply cannot waste time. If anything happens, anybody calls, a client complains, or something needs to be changed or someone needs to attend a meeting, salaries or bills need to be paid, etc.. all responsibility is over my head. Me and my two Partners are the last responsible of everything.
My work is the Architect work apart from manage my company. That is why I do not joke when it comes to talk about my work. Cannot lose time and fool around during my “productive hours”. Of course nobody is perfect and is impossible to be the best at using every single tool you use or be the most efficient at any task you carry on. But in our case we really need to try.
In the last couple of years we needed to give response to a lot of different kind of projects.. Some of them never materialised or never happened. Sometimes clients take their time to pay… So we need to keep the Architect machine producing. Everyone wants everything as soon as possible and of course you cannot do any mistake or they will judge you for the rest of your life (everybody do mistakes from time to time no worries).
Sometimes I need to locate hours of the day in 3 different projects apart from other admin – business tasks. I am not gonna talk about real multitasking today but is something that can be harmful for your mind and body, believe me. Have you ever manage to focus properly working in 3 different projects during the same day? Communicating with 3 different clients and teams in different parts of the world as the director of the project and the one that produce and do every single drawing? When you do this for weeks or months your perspective change.. You should never do it, but as an Archipreneur sometimes you need to.
For us having an effective Design Process combined with ARCHICAD was the only way to become “Entrepreneurs” or “Archipreneurs”. At the beginning it was only two of us. Using other tools we used before we knew we would have needed at least two more people or draft mans to start the Machine moving. We didn’t have that resources to start our little dream. We had ARCHICAD. We dint have powerful desktops in our shared office. We had laptops that allowed to work from everywhere. And we start working as if each of us was a small team of 2-3 people. And that is what we still are. Each member of the office is usually a small independent team. When projects are huge or gets complicated we temporally restructure to put energy where we need it.
We do not use Drafting people, we automate processes. With the equipment you see above I get more things done that I ever used to before. Is my only chance to develop my own projects. In spanish we have an expression which is “Punta de Lanza” means the “spearhead”. The expression means something like Battle Horse. Well I would say that our Laptops are our battle horses and our tiny ARCHICAD Key Licences are our Spearheads. We fight every battle with these equipment and of course some other tools.
If you as a young Architect dreamer want to do your own projects I think you should really think about it. It is definitely NOT the easy option. As one of my teachers used to say you should do it only if you cannot do anything else. If this is your case I really would like you to consider these advises:
– Think very carefully about your process, how you get things done. Measure your time and objectives.
– Do something that differentiates you. Why you and no somebody else?
– How your activity is gonna improve other people’s life? Why your projects are better? Can others benefit from your values?
– As Bruce Lee used to say: “Be water my friend”. Be as flexible as much as you can.
– Take breaks, they are as important as the Oxygen you breathe.
I think that we all should try to team up some how and try to do the projects we really think that improve our society and create a more sustainable environment. We are architects and we do what we do because we love it. But sustainability start by the use of your resources effectively, and your most valuable resource is Time. One person I know used to say: look you can be poor now and rich tomorrow, money comes and goes, but you will never have more time than what you have now..
Thanks for reading us!