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Work ‘dries up’ as euro debt crisis worsens

The deepening eurozone debt crisis has forced UK architects to scale down offices on the continent and look for work beyond Europe

Jestico + Whiles associate director Sean Clifton, who is based in Prague, said British practices operating in Europe would ‘definitely’ have to reduce their workforce.

He said fears over Greek and Italian debt defaults had left many clients and investors ‘extremely cautious’, causing delays to hundreds of projects.

He added: ‘The exposure of Germany and France to Greek and Italian debt is our largest concern, as many of our UK and European projects are financed by funds closely linked to Germany and Italy. The direct result for UK architectural practices is less work in Europe, and to a lesser extent, less work at home.’

House building in Europe ‘saw a real, positive spike’ at the start of the year, he said: ‘But in the last three months that slowed dramatically because people were hesitant about buying.’

Dav Bansal, associate director at Glenn Howells Architects, agreed that private sector work was ‘drying up’ in Europe and said UK practices were bracing for ‘further devaluation of the euro’ by exporting their skills to ‘stronger emerging economies’, such as India and China.

He said: ‘With no resolution to the eurozone crisis in the near future, it will inevitably spread. The damage to the UK economy could be substantial.’

YRM director Iain Macdonald said eurozone clients were ‘hesitant’ with commercial projects, but infrastructure schemes were progressing.

Chartered surveyor John Boxall of Jackson Coles said the risk of currency fluctuation was making cost planning more complex.

He warned of ‘rapid change in prices’ and advised: ‘Stay as close as you can to suppliers and subcontractors when pricing and ensure you update frequently. Try to avoid unique specification.’

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