This is a working document. The answers below cover our ambition and ethos, in response to frequently asked questions. For more information please see our Manifesto.
01. How can I get involved?
¬ You can report your practice to the RIBA for not paying the [London] Living Wage, as per RIBA requirements. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line :’[London] Living Wage – breach of Chartered Practice Criteria’.
¬ Pass on information to us about company malpractice and how your office has been instrumental in gentrification. Disclose close relationships between developers, planning authorities and architects. Tell us about how your work has contributed to furthering the privatisation of London. Email us privately (see FAQ .02)
¬ Print out a poster and put up in your workplace, local area or university, or share online.
¬ Contribute to our survey of architectural practices. Your anonymous answers will help us to build a strong case against the work done by our offices, safeguarding the interests of workers and residents alike.
¬ Submit your questions for the debate we’re hosting this year with the heads of London’s leading regeneration firms. You may be a resident of our city or worker in one of our practices. You may be wondering what went wrong with your consultation process, or why your concerns haven’t been listened to. Together we’ll hold those with power to steer London development to account.
¬ Contact us directly at email@example.com and become involved in the longer struggle. We are looking for input on graphics, research, social media, filmography. Your help will be invaluable to communicating to a wide audience effectively, making our arguments clear and bold.
02. How do I send Architectural Workers an anonymous email?
For a back and forth exchange we recommend creating an email account using credentials that can’t be linked to your real identity. This should only take a few minutes. For a single email you can use a disposable email address using www.guerrillamail.com. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
03. Who can join Architectural Workers?
We are particularly interested in architectural workers who work within the 6 regeneration practices we named in our Open Letter in December 2016. These are dRMM, Howarth Thompkins, HTA Design, Karakusevic Carson, MAE, PRP. Currently we are gathering information for our debate later this year. We want to know about staff treatment, ‘unspoken’ office rules, operating procedures and specific instances where residents interests have been intentionally de-prioritised.
Those working in regeneration practices not named above, or other architect’s offices are welcome to join us. You are necessary to illustrate the breadth of the industry’s failures. You may be a chartered architect unhappy with the course of your professional career in financialized home-destruction. You may be an office administrative worker who can provide key insights into company accounts and pay discrepancies.
If you don’t work in or around architecture, you are very welcome to join us. We are looking for input on graphics, research, social media, filmography. Your help will be invaluable to communicating to a wide audience effectively, making our arguments clear and bold.
We meet weekly and commit some evenings and weekends to Architectural Workers. We welcome anyone who can contribute their time and skills, on an ad hoc or more routine basis.
We welcome people from all academic and professional backgrounds. We value the input of people across gender, race, class and religious backgrounds. If you think there’s a problem with the nature of regeneration in London today, help us change it.
04. How will Architectural Workers benefit me?
We can provide advice on how to successfully talk to your employers about pay and other workers’ rights. We can help you draft emails that accurately and effectively communicate your demands. We can provide a support network of experienced practioners in the same field.
05. Why do you work for the practices you criticize?
We work at our respective practices for a number of reasons. In a pressurized industry, where housing is seen as unglamourous and formulaic, housing practices attract a mix of employees. For some, access to the job market is difficult and protracted, and housing offices have been the only work going. For others, housing represented a last bastion of state-led architecture, a mirage of socially conscious and ethical practice. The offices we work for maintain a very careful media presence, and it’s often only on working on projects within them that we’ve been able to see through the spin.
06. Why are you anonymous?
Staying anonymous allows us to voice real concerns to a public audience. We’re enabled to discuss openly what we can’t talk about in the office. Anonymity allows us to continue organising and gain knowledge within the industry we want to reform. Lastly, safeguarding our identities is key to protect our livelihoods and income.
07. Doesn’t regeneration improve ‘run-down’ estates?
Having spent years working across leading ‘regeneration’ practices, we’ve grown to be wary of the socially-led claims made by our bosses, journalists and local councils alike.
In many cases, it’s difficult to portray to a wider public the many effects of regeneration beyond the project statistics: how many homes created, or the offsetting proposed by delivering a new play facility. Such descriptions deliberately obscure the cumulative effect of gentrification, as well as the sticky processes and intentions behind ‘regeneration’ projects. Even statistics, which might declare that a scheme is ‘100% social housing’, can be deployed in ways that disguise the real implications of the development. The purely affordable development is in fact a decant site for estate demolition, replacing homes at a rate less than 1 for 1 so that new luxury dwellings can take over the prime land.
08. What’s the alternative then?
We believe in architecture that puts the needs of people who live in our buildings front and centre. We believe that architecture shouldn’t be used as a tool of capital, making profit at the cost of the city’s residents. At the very least, architects working in estate regeneration should be doing their upmost to put the needs of people before finance.
09. What’s the long term vision for Architectural Workers?
We’re working towards unionisation of all architectural workers and shifting the public perception and architectural practice of the industry. Find our core demands in our manifesto (coming soon).