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From Barcelona to Paris to build shopping centres in China

A young Catalan architect with no employment opportunities at home opens an office in Paris to work on buildings in Asia.


17 January 2011 10:49 PM


ACN / Jordi Font

Paris (CNA) .- Jordi Pimas left Catalonia due to the lack of work prospects available for architects. \u2018My internship was up and most businesses were laying people off, explains 26 year old Jordi. \u2018So, as I really wanted to see the world, I decided to go to Paris even though I had no job or no French. Within a week, Jordi Pimas had found his first job as an architect. He was working on an international project to develop shopping centres in China with two partners. Although it was difficult for him in the beginning as he did not even have an office, he was able to apply for international tenders. His situation in Paris is much better than back home in Catalonia.

Architects are among the professionals most affected by the labour market crisis in Catalonia. In the last few years there has been a massive departure of construction professionals not only to Europe but also to Asia and America. Wherever in the world you are, there are always more job offers than in Catalonia even though historically there are a large number of architect firms. At the moment though, they have very few projects. The most affected are the young architects who entered the labour market just at the peak of the economic crisis.

A year and a half ago, Jordi was doing an internship in a business district of Barcelona; his future looked very bleak. The offices began to fire people after the housing bubble burst and there were very few job prospects. The only solution was to go abroad and earn a living. \u201CI arrived in Paris a year and a half ago at a time when all my home friends who had never had trouble finding a job before were suddenly jobless, so the situation led me to take action fast\u201D, Jordi tells CNA. He is sitting at his desk in the dining room of his partners\u2019 house, Roman and Marina.

When Jordi arrived in Paris, he had no job and spoke no French. Within a week he did his first interview in an office and was offered a contract. "After so many difficult months in Catalonia, I got a job in one week in Paris and I didn\u2019t even speak the language\u201D, says the young architect in a surprised manner.  After a while at his first job, Jordi contacted Marina, who he knew from Catalonia, and, together with Roman, who is French, decided last October to join the brand Dubosc and take over the role of an older architect who wanted to retire. He then got to know other offices associated with the brand in various countries around the world, including Asia.

At first he only worked on projects in France but has recently began working in China. The young architect admits that due to language and cultural issues, it is sometimes difficult to work with the Chinese, but the country does initiate a lot of construction projects. \u201CWe suddenly found something that we didn\u2019t know very well and people who do not fully understand, but any project in China worth it because it is huge and if you win the competition you get a lot of work for a long time\u201D says Jordi.

The architect acknowledges that the beginning was not easy but assures that he is delighted to be involved in the project and very \u201Cexcited\u201D, especially when he notes how \u201Ceverything has stopped\u201D in Catalonia. \u201CHere at least there are options to do things, at least there are opportunities\u201D. Jordi and his partners hope to soon win a competition and fund that would ensure them a few months of work and permit them to rent an office.

In France, these young architects have a chance of success, not like in Catalonia. \u201CAs there is nowhere better to live than Catalonia, our attitude is always to return\u201D, says Jordi, \u201Cbut while the situation remains the same, we have no other option, we have to earn a living\u201D.


  • Jordi Pimas (right) working in his studio with his two partners (by J. Font)

  • Jordi Pimas (right) working in his studio with his two partners (by J. Font)