By ALAN CLENDENNING
MADRID (AP) â¿¿ In a cramped office in downtown Madrid, five young architects who found themselves jobless in Spain's wrenching economic crisis sit almost elbow to elbow â¿¿ glued to computer screens as they create 3-D videos of construction proposals for far-flung sites in Britain, Panama, Malaysia and Zambia.
The founders of the Factoria 5 digital design company last month took home â¿¬2,000 ($2,700) each for the projects they are delivering. That's good money for professionals in a field so blighted by Spain's building bust that many of Factoria 5's fellow architecture grads are either unemployed, have given up on architecture or moved abroad. One, who considers himself lucky, became a train conductor.
Juan Francisco Lopez, one of the founders of the firm, took another path in the crisis, one that goes deeply against the grain of Spain's traditional career path: With no work coming to them, Lopez and his partners decided to go after the work, taking control of their destiny with a risky startup.
"Architecture will never come back to Spain as a business again like it was," said Lopez. "But our business has been growing little by little as Spain's economy has been falling."
By spawning astonishing 50 percent youth unemployment, Spain's crushing crisis appears to be starting to force ingenuity, innovation and creativity among young professionals who are taking risks and bucking the pattern of seeking security under the umbrella of an established business. That means embracing a more American-style entrepreneurial spirit â¿¿ breathing a new spirit into the workforce of a country where "making it" typically meant a good, stable job with a blue chip company or in the family business.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the latest installment in Class of 2012, an exploration of Europe's financial crisis through the eyes of young people emerging from the cocoon of student life into the worst downturn the continent has seen since the end of World War II. Follow the class on its Google plus page: http://apne.ws/ClassOf2012