Microeconomics

An architect in Switzerland

Text and photos: Annika Kiehn

Christophe Joud, 32, grew up in the village of Lens-Lestang, south-east France. In 2006 he went to Lausanne as an exchange student. He completed his master’s degree in architecture at the Technical University and decided to stay in Lausanne, the second-largest city in French-speaking Switzerland.
In 2012, with his business partner, he set up the architectural practice of Joud & Vergély.  He also works as a university lecturer and research assistant.

Earnings, basic expenses, provisions for old age

Between his architectural practice and his part-time university post, Joud earns gross pay of €3,180 a month. He pays himself a gross monthly salary of €1,720. His health insurance costs him just under €260 a month, his pension is about €350. He pays €464 income tax a month. The rent for his flat amounts to €1,460 a month, which he splits with his wife, who is also an architect. His annual railway season ticket costs him about €2,320, car-sharing another €172 a month. He eats lunch three times a week in the university canteen, paying €11 a time. From time to time all the architectural office staff treat themselves to lunch together in a restaurant for €25 each.

What does your work mean to you?

For me, it’s not work – it’s my way of life

What is the most important thing in your life?

Loving what I do and being able to make a living from it.

What would you most like to change about your life?

I would like to have a free weekend more often. But on the other hand I just cannot stop working. I would like to remedy this conflict – with more leisure time being the priority.

What are your biggest problems and how do you handle them?

As a freelance architect, my income fluctuates widely. It would be nice not to have to think about money the whole time.

What do you do if you want to treat yourself to something special?

Travel with my wife.

What do you expect the future to bring and what do you do to bring it about?

I would like to keep developing creatively and to remain curious. If I want to achieve that I must not be unduly self-satisfied.

What would you do if you did not have to bother about earning a living for a year?

I would hire a studio in which I could concentrate on architecture all day – play around and devise designs that are not limited by any specifications.

Are there any drawbacks about being a foreigner living in Switzerland?

Yes, to some extent there are. I’ve never won a commission through my contacts, unlike quite a few of my Swiss colleagues. So when I win a competition I think I’ve earned the victory twice over – because then it was all down to my own ability, that was what made the difference.

Switzerland

Population 8.5 million
Currency Swiss francs (CHF)
(average rate in 2016) (0.86 CHF = 1 euro)
GDP per capita €75,175
Human Development Index ranked 2nd
(Germany: 4th out of 188 countries; UK 16th)

Current average costs

1 litre of petrol €1.20
1 hour pedalo ride €22
1 kilo of raclette cheese €20
1 bar of chocolate €2
1 scoop of ice cream €3
1 glass of Aperol apéritif and white wine in a bar €13