The Good Oil
To be a good architect, you must have a modicum of talent and many happy clients, pleased with your buildings. You won't be able to pay your bills, otherwise. To be an internationally famous architect requires no clients at all, and certainly no buildings. All you need are rich parents and indulgent patrons.
Consider Ms Zaha Hadid, one of the most lauded and famous architects of our time, was lauded and famous before she ever built so much as a brick sh*thouse. She received her first paying commission for a real building after 25 years in the business. Like many others of the greats - especially the postmodernists - her reputation was based entirely on images, not real-life.
Being a famous architect requires little contact with reality; only an indulgent benefactor who will pay your bills year after year. You can spend many a happy decade entering international competitions, which you never seem to quite win. With the right connections, though, you can have your drawings published in the right avant-garde magazines, books and sites, thereby garnering the fame you so rightly deserve.
The last thing that you as a potential genius wants is to win a competition before you are forty and your patron's money and tolerance has run out. Oi vey! Then all the problem fairies will appear, fairies who never before set a foot on your pristine drawing board or screen.
You've spent your life designing self-indulgent fantasies. Now you actually have to make one come to life. Whoa! That means dealing with people who actually have to work for a living-not something you are used to. Are you ready for it?
You probably won a competition in a country you've never set foot in, so you have no more idea of local building regulations and customs than you have of quantum mechanics. You have to listen to an endless parade of local politicians. The client actually works to a budget, so you have to deal with his or her constant meddling in your expensive genius. The sad fools who certify building health and safety are so arrogant as to tell you how to distribute toilet facilities, or how much car-parking you must have, or that your creation must satisfy fire regulations. What pish-tosh!
And then there is the actual builder! My God, what a vulgarian!
No: the best place for you in an international competition is to come second.
Here is our simple plan for international success:
The rest of your contemporaries have a family and a mortgage: if they don't please clients by designing real buildings, they will starve. Not you!
Take a look at the play or film Six Degrees of Separation. If that is your family background: settle back, relax, and play the game as you innately know how to - you are already on your way. Rich parents and friends will help you tide over the lean years (which can stretch into decades) while you wait for your first prestigious commission.
With money behind you, you can spend your twenties, thirties and even beyond as a dilettante. How many architects could afford to wait to receive their first commission until 44 years of age, the age at which Ms Hadid's first design was actually built?