The Architecture Lobby now has a Victorian Chapter, the first outside the United States. The founders outline their motivations for setting up and plans for the future.

The first Architecture Lobby Think In – William Ward, Jeff Probyn, Peggy Deamer, Monique Woodward and Stephanie Bullock.

The Architecture Lobby is a democratically run member’s organisation that seeks to catalyse disciplinary change. We are a group who critically interrogate the status quo of habits and practices that diminish the worth of architectural work. We aim to redefine the collective understanding of architectural labour, and communicate architecture’s value to society by using campaigns to advocate for the value of its workers (us!).

Design is work, and we as workers urgently need to collectively stand up for our work’s value. We are workers not martyrs. The tortured artist stereotype needs a radical re-think. The heart we put into our work needs to be met with a level head and the support of an architectural body. We are long overdue for collective action.

The Victorian Lobby is a chapter of an international not-for-profit corporation founded in 2013 in New York City, which now has a growing network of chapters across the United States. There are currently 16 chapters in the US, all of which are guided by the Architecture Lobby Manifesto.

The Architecture Lobby is a body through which members are able to run campaigns. These campaigns are funded by all dues-paying members internationally.

We established the lobby here because there is no other group in Victoria that exclusively lobbies for the interests of architectural workers.

We advocate for workers at all levels: graduates, registered architects, working students, interns, academics, landscape architects, interior designers and draftspeople. We represent all workers in the industry, including those who identify as architects but have left the profession. Why? Because we’re all working in pursuit of fair conditions, and we all deserve to be treated with the same rights of fair pay for fair work.

We are completely transparent in structure and finance, and anyone can attend our chapter meetings or become a member.

We believe that all architectural labourer experience is of value and can help to shape the Lobby. Talking and the collective sharing of experiences is action.

We invite the Victorian architecture community to get involved and help change the culture of architecture in Victoria.

Industrial relations in Victorian architecture. Diagram by The Architecture Lobby.

The Architecture Lobby is for Every Architectural Worker

We want all architectural workers to participate in an inclusive, equitable and flexible industry. We want the wider community to see design as labour, and for us and our work to be valued. We believe good design is of incredible societal worth.

All design work should be fairly remunerated. Our industry’s gender pay gap should be closed. International architects, graduates and students should be given equal working opportunities. Workplace cultures should actively discourage recurring long working weeks. Overtime should always be compensated. And yet, progress is slow.

One effective way to redress our discipline’s culture is through collective action. The base standards (and here we note, there is nothing radical listed above) we are demanding of the industry can be effectively addressed through a united body with a communal theory, manifesto and ethos.

We Intend to Organise and CAPITALISE

We collaborate on issues that affect architectural workers, with campaigns shaped by the members who attend our chapter meetings. There is no set structure for how to lobby for change – members decide on the approach. We identify an issue that needs to be addressed and then work to enact change. This gives us flexibility to tackle the issues pertinent to our discipline now.

One of our current major projects is to develop a Longitudinal Survey to quantify the extent of labour-rights violations within our industry. Other campaigns in the pipeline include: acknowledging organisations that implement good workplace practices, and considering how to tackle those that consistently perpetuate inequities; lobbying universities to educate graduates on employment laws and good mental health practices; confronting the specific issues faced by international architectural workers; and the great divides that persist in achieving professional gender equity.

Maybe there is something above that resonates with you as a worker? Maybe you have a burning issue that urgently needs addressing? We encourage you to come to our meetings to have your say. We are here to listen to you and shape a better working culture for all workers.

An empowered worker acts in the knowledge that their work is of civic value. They know this because they can negotiate flexible working arrangements and take career breaks without adversely affecting their continuing employment. They work reasonable hours without unfair penalties and are remunerated according to the genuine value of their work. Increasing the share of empowered workers in our profession can only benefit us all.

We call those curious about how we work and what we do to come to our next Chapter Meeting. We invite you to join in the conversation.

Download a PDF of The Architecture Lobby’s diagram of organisations involved in industrial relations in Victoria.