Architecture can be a poor, masochistic, and downtrodden profession, but it doesn’t have to be. The truth is we never had to be poor, in fact we probably could have had our choice of occupations, but for whatever reason we’re here. Our short term financial freedom lies in what I (and I guess a few others) call Schadenfreude Capitalism. German in origin, the term Schadenfreude means a happiness attained through another’s misfortune, an optimistic sadism in a way. What could be more American that profiting from loss, pain, and even death?
Whenever there is a hurricane, tsunami, war, etcetera — someone makes money. And while as architects, we lack the time to analyze market trends and keep up with the intentions and whereabouts of company CEO’s and board members, I think we all can understand that disaster yields demand. Forecasting what will be in demand and acting fast may yield short term profits, at least enough to graduate from PBR.
For an example of Schadenfreude Capitalism, consider Hurricane Sandy; what is the cost to return damaged cities to a state of normalcy? Companies speculated to benefit from this damage were recently projected in Forbes Magazine. Generally speaking, if investing in the mentioned companies now, you could be bandwagonning, at the tail end of a trend, or even buying diluted stock — but perhaps you can save this bit of information for the next disaster.
Though this is an absurdly simplistic view of a localized market, it is important to keep up with potential profiteers of current events; if not for your personal finances, then to anticipate where your next client will come from. To survive in architecture, it is not enough to be able to rattle off the span of steel, list Corb’s five points, or discuss the proliferation of technology in design (unless you’re the child of an oil tycoon, then you can just draw curvy shit). The modern architect should have an understanding of economic forces and those who dictate them. Schadenfreude Economics is your gateway drug and a catalyst for turning misfortune into fortune. And if you’re too tired of making less than livable wages and you can’t wait for catastrophe, consider planning the world’s next tragedy – I’m just sayin’…
BuildingSatire is a blog consisting of architectural satire, cynicism, and humor to alleviate the tension and pretension in professional architecture.