Atomised profession

How might we as architects participate in creating better future, if the profession is atomised?


Most architects in Europe work as a sole principal (architect working independently who provides a full range of architectural services to clients). Most offices in Europe can be described as micro-businesses: usually up to 10 people working in an office. They cannot therefore match (in size or finances) the construction and development companies, which are very important stakeholders in the construction process. The working relations are structured by employment law.

Because of atomisation, there is not much room for collective bargaining for better working conditions in the office itself, or for jointly seeking a better future for the profession or the society. Most of those who could take part in it are too busy running their own business. Individual competitive advantages become important: every advantage, such as contacts or any type of capital (e.g. financial), counts. The more competitive the environment is, the less empathy and creativity is involved.

Czech context

There is a tendency to work independently right after university in the Czech Republic. Any knowledge or experience is thus acquired by trial and error. Paradoxically, given the generally difficult working conditions, this is an alternative young architects see as relevant. Those who choose this path value freedom, the ability to do things their own way and not to be part of a toxic culture.

Size of architectural practices EU vs CZ

Source: WCYA(cze), 2020

Architects’ field of employment EU

Source: ACE, 2022