Freelancing in Architecture,
Freelancing means a set of services curated by the person providing it. These services are specific to the client’s requirements and are fulfilled by the freelancer if they possess the aligned skill set. In architecture, it means to practice as a self-employed architect based on their skill strengths and preferred niche. These services provided independently allow the freelance architect to choose the organization (client) and the projects like to be involved in. They set their timelines and schedule the project delivery accordingly.
The freelance architect can progress into a well-rounded professional. This is because they depend on themselves to provide the services. So, the way to do this is to expand and branch out their skillsets into related services. Another way is to keep upgrading their knowledge of the field. The world is evolving, and one should stay rooted in the advancements.
As the work is on a per-project basis, the freelance architect can also decide the time limit they want to work with the client – including a contractual one. The exposure provided by pursuing this is tremendous. This is because there is constant interaction with the client, vendors, government officials if needed, site engineers, and developers. Each project will have a different requirement and process. These are opportunities to expand into new soft skill sets.
Creative Impact on the Architect
Through freelancing, an architect can explore their interests, creativity, process, and the type of projects that they would like to be involved in. Each project has its unique challenges. Each time the architect can overcome this, they cultivate a management and solution-oriented mindset. Eventually, being a successful architect means that they can execute a built form which a delicate balance of aspects such as the client’s requirements, the architect’s creativity, material choices, and structurally secure engineering technologies. This new intervention creates a thoughtful impact in its site context. The clients’ aspirations are fulfilled in this process.
A successful project execution opens opportunities to work on architectural projects across various industries. The exposure enhances the architect’s skillset and portfolio, improving their chances of receiving more projects.
Following is a list of a few freelance architects who established their practices based on their distinct beliefs and how their designs have impacted society. They are also unique pioneers of design in their niche. Their designs address current social and environmental challenges. They seek to actively create engaging spaces carved out with consideration for the environment.
- Anupama Kundoo: She is now an established architect in India. She started her career as a freelance architect. She believes in intuitive human creativity. She encourages the use of human resources over natural resources. Her designs reflect that time is spacious, and when built with this consideration, buildings can outlive human life. Her work demonstrates and focuses on material research and experimentation toward buildings that impact the environment positively. Some of her projects include the Wall House, Auroville Town House Complex, Creativity-An Urban Eco Community, and Sharana Day Care Facility. Most of her projects that have materialized are based on community well-being.
Design Jatra: This began as a design initiative in 2013. It has now taken the form of an architectural practice. The practice was set up as a path to strengthening rural communities and their traditional practices with vernacular construction, material, and skills. It is now a socio-architectural practice. Their designs are inspired by traditional processes of architecture. This can be evolved and modified to today’s needs. Their executive approach is comprehensive and seeks to transform the ecology of the surrounding landscape on which their projects are based. This includes the regeneration of natural resources. Some of their projects include The Tribal Habitat, Pradhan Villa, and House at Murbad. They undertake a myriad of projects ranging from residential to community to agrotourism landscape projects.
Bob Borson: He is well-known in the architectural community and is the voice behind the architecture website titled ‘Life of an Architect’. He shares his experiences with fellow architects, architectural enthusiasts, and budding architects through blogs, podcasts, and videos. Through different mediums, he shares professional practice tips and design thought processes. Other than these media, he is also a sketch artist. He shares architectural and construction sketches and detail on his social media. He cannot be categorized as a freelance architect; however, he has initiated many channels through which he expresses his interest in the architectural field. This process is like freelance architects, who carve out their niches based on their curiosity, strengths, and spirit for exploring creative channels.
Shigeru Ban: A Japanese Architect who began his career by setting up his firm with no prior professional experience. He was trained in carpentry and graduated with an architecture degree. His work is inspired by John Hejduk, who is also known as ‘The Paper Architect’ who believed that architecture is a vehicle that conveys meaning. The buildings that Hejduk envisioned were characters of an incomplete narrative. Ban started his professional journey by setting up installations for exhibitions conducted by different architects such as Alvar Aalto and Emilio Ambasz. Later in his career, he was instrumental in building refugee and survivor housing for those affected by wars and natural calamities. These built forms were paper tube structures that gained popularity in his projects. His work is currently based on providing architectural designs, volunteering for disaster relief, and teaching. He is also keenly pursuing the design and development of materials and structural systems.
Common Insights from the Success Stories
In all examples, it is observed that each architect had their perception of how their visions, values, and beliefs reflected in their designs could impact their career and society. They have achieved recognition based on their unique perspectives, exploring their niche strengths, including a sustainable approach to designing physical spaces and embracing innovative technologies and processes. Constantly learning and unlearning to curate their process is a crucial step. Their technical and social experiences allowed them to reveal their professional strengths and the direction their career should pursue.
The digital world is connecting people and opportunities at lightning speed. Architect professionals can set up their practice featuring their niche interests and skills. This allows the freelance architect to leverage their skills, creativity, negotiating, and problem-solving skills. It cultivates the ability to manage the many aspects required to run a smooth functioning architectural practice . This includes legal matters and financial decisions. Working on their own encourages them to be updated with the latest trends – in construction technologies and building regulations to provide services of good standards. Some of the ways this is possible are:
Networking with family and friends: This allows the architect’s closest circle to help spread the word about the services provided.
Networking with industry professionals: Networking with peers and attending architectural events creates connections that lead to possible clientele.
Networking on online platforms: The architect can also reach out to companies and hiring managers to be involved in projects they are interested in.
Upgrading skills: Branching out technical skills helps in enhancing creative expression and adds value, especially during the project pitching period.
- Bob Borson (2010). Life of an Architect. [online]. (Last updated: July 23, 2023) Available at: https://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/ [Accessed date: 02 August 2023]
- Anupama Kundoo Architects. Anupama Kundoo Architects. [online]. Available at: https://anupamakundoo.com/ [Accessed date: 02 August 2023]
- Design Jatra Architects. [online]. Available at: https://designjatra.org/ [Accessed date: 02 August 2023]
- The Pritzker Architecture Prize. Biography-Shigeru Ban. [online] Available at: https://www.pritzkerprize.com/biography-shigeru-ban [Accessed date: 03 August 2023]