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There is no moonlighting. It’s a jungle!

Moonlighting #28 ArchiTalks

I must confess that the first thing I thought, when I read this month’s #ArchiTalks  theme , was…

Moonlighting #28 ArchiTalks

Throwback to the ’80s! I loved that show! Anyway, now I know what moonlighting actually means, and I also get the chance to explain how being an architect in Italy is.

The majority of the architects in Italy start their careers as freelancers  – or a kind of –  because almost no architecture studio would hire employees.
This kind of freelancers are called il popolo delle partite IVA (The people of the partite IVA) by newspapers.

Now I need to explain what IVA and Partita IVA are, because if you want to work as freelance architect in Italy you have to “open your own Partita IVA” – sometimes you are forced to –
IVA (Imposta sul Valore Aggiunto) is a goods and services tax, basically it’s the Italian standard Value Added Tax  (it exists throughout the European Union). Any business has to be registered for IVA purposes.
It’s a tax applied to purchases – items and services – The prices are increased by this tax, which is a percentage of the net price. Freelancers are obliged to include IVA on services that they supply to clients, they collect IVA for the government and then pay it any 3 months. They also are entitled to a IVA deduction for the IVA they pay on the goods and services they acquire that they need to work. The tax they have paid for such purchases can be deducted from the tax they charge to their customers. The government only receives the difference.

Basically you don’t pay IVA for the computer you purchase to work, because you need it to produce “the goods you sell to customers”. The clients pay IVA at the very end of the production process. I’ve tried to simplify I hope it is clear.

The “Partita IVA” is the registration number the taxing authority gives to you, freelancer architect, to identify you when you pay your taxes.

Freelance architects are paid as a percentage on the design they have worked on – when the clients will paid the main studio – and the architects who have commissioned them to do a part of the designs pay as a normal client: net price + IVA. So as a young architect, you can work for other architects (more than one studio) and have your own clients at the same time.


In most cases you will work just for one architect, in his studio because you need that, and because you don’t have the money to buy an office, softwares, printers, etc… and you will not have the time to work for anyone else at the same time. So basically you will become an employee without being it, without having the rights that the State assures to employees. More than real entrepreneur you will be precarious worker forced to self-employment.

In this scenario there is no moolighting. It’s a jungle!

What about me?

I had the chance to get a fixed-term working contract (6 months + other 6) when I started but I wasn’t allowed to open my own partita IVA. The firm didn’t want to risk moonlighting! Then they asked me to join the association. After 9 years things are a little bit changed, the studio is smaller now, but we are still here.
I know architects who work a second job, but a different kind of job – for example running a bed & breakfast! –  and a few who ended up quitting the profession. The recession made its victims.


This is the 28th entry in a series titled “ArchiTalks” and the topic was “Moonlighting”


If you would like to see how other architects from around the globe responded to today’s topic just follow the links below.


Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
Should Architects Moonlight?

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
The Ironic Blasphemy of Moonlighting and what Architects are Missing Out On

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
moonlighting more than an 80s sitcom

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Moon(lighting) changes with the seasons

Collier Ward – One More Story (@BuildingContent)

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
hustle and grind: #architalks

Michael Riscica AIA – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
Moonlighting for Young Architects

Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@BuildingsRCool)
Architects do it All Night Long

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Starlight, moonlight – tick tock

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Is Moonlighting Worth It? Probably Not, But We All Try.

Kyu Young Kim – J&K Atelier (@sokokyu)
Dancing in the Moonlight

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)a
The Howling

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
Moonlighting: or Why I Kept My Dayjob.

Tim Ung – Journey of an Architect (@timothy_ung)
An Alternative to Moonlighting as a Young Architect

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
Architalks 28 Moonlighting

Gabriela Baierle-Atwood – Gabriela Baierle-Atwood (@gabrielabaierle)
On Moonlighting

Jane Vorbrodt – Kuno Architecture (@janevorbrodt)
Crafted Moonlighting



  • Lora

    So interesting how different countries manage the idea of “moonlighting”. Thanks for your insight this month!

    • True! Very interesting.
      Thank you for your comment and sorry for the very late reply.