Architects – A dying breed in the UK? Please prove us wrong!

The future for UK-based architects and start-up architecture firms looks rather bleak due to a combination of a downturn in construction at home, and a rise in demand for British architects abroad.

<>At a recent Insider breakfast, three of the North West’s leading architecture firms reported that since the global showcase British architecture received during London 2012, firms in the region are taking up lucrative overseas deals to offset the downturn at home. A recent report from the Designing Buildings Wiki on construction, revealed that output remains 9% down on 2002, and the private sector needs to grow by a third of a billion per quarter to maintain current output. Mike Hitchmough, of 3D Reid, stated: “UK architects bring intellectual rigour and conceptual expertise which foreign practices very often don’t have. For a short, sharp investment hit, you can be successful.”

However, renowned architect Will Allsop is concerned that this trend could cause problems for lesser known, smaller practices, and could jeopardise the UK’s reputation as a country of quality architects. “How are the next generation going to make a name for themselves, if they don’t have the projects at home or the opportunity to go abroad?” he proclaimed.

BDP Chairman David Cash has recently moved a large majority of the company’s contracts overseas, citing places such as Delhi, Abu Dhabi and Shanghai as key growth areas. “In the current climate, we probably need to accept the UK workload will be depressed for some years to come,” he stated. “This means that for larger practices in particular, winning work abroad is going to be essential.”
So where does this leave smaller and newer firms?

Even from a grassroots level, working overseas seems to be ingrained in the next generation of architects, with more opportunities than ever to learn their trade abroad. As it stands, with the exponential growth needed in the wake of the public sector cuts, the landscape of British architecture looks bleak.

Are you a small to moderate sized architecture firm working in the North West? Are you struggling to survive in the UK market or are you thriving?

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