RORY SALAZAR | Finance | Contact

In architecture, elegance is an elusive concept. This is something recent graduate Thelma Amleth (24) has been grappling with lately.

“Form, function, utility, grace. Each has their place, no?” Amleth offered our reporter while sketching a 3 storey commercial building façade in the art nouveau style on the café napkin in front of her.

Synonymous with beauty and refinement, the study of architecture is a pursuit of excellence residing in subjective realms where only true artists fear to tread. Such is the fleeting magnificence of the technical art form.

Yet while the discipline itself may bring humanity closer to God, it does not necessarily translate to a liveable wage in this soulless neoliberal economy. Which is what Amleth realised today when she was offered a job at award winning firm, Urbanismo.

“I was grateful to be offered the job but the wage seemed low,” Amleth said sheepishly.

Legally speaking, the National Architects Award dictates that Amleth should be offered a FT contract of at least $57,329. However, even that seems low considering Amleth’s terrifyingly difficult, 5 year master’s of architecture degree has left her $140,000 in debt. Plus her weekly rent is $525 a week and her base living expenses beyond that are approximately $32,000 annually (if she skips meals).

This means even with her new job she’ll be living off credit cards for the foreseeable future.

To make matters worse, her contract offer was $8,700 below the legal minimum.

“That’s got to be illegal, right?” Amleth asked the Advocate. All our reporter could do was shrug their shoulders.

Despite entering a highly skilled profession that only 15 years ago was a lucrative prospect, Amleth finds herself having to accept a wage that is well-below the poverty line given today’s cost of living.

The reality for the intelligent young woman is that she’s better off waiting tables at the local coffee house for 55 hours a week. Which is exactly what she’s doing.

Scrunching up the café napkin where she’d sketched the 3 storey art nouveau building façade, she placed it inside her work apron. “Would you like another coffee, sir?” She asked.

‘Just the bill please’ was our response.


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