Workloads on the up for UK architects
Architects’ workloads surged in the second quarter of this year amid strong signs of recovery in the economy
According to new data from The Fees Bureau, the project value of new commissions, (gauged from RIBA stage C) and of production drawings (from RIBA stage E) increased by two thirds across all sectors between March and June (from £18.6 billion to £30 billion and from £9.8 billion to £ 16.3 billion respectively).
The rise was underpinned by a boom in small and large-scale private housing, the total value of new build commissions in the sector rocketing to £10.4 billion – its highest level since mid-2008.
Other sectors performing well included offices where production drawings jobs for schemes being resurrected topped 2008 levels.
Practices in all UK regions grew in the period except in Northern Ireland, where new commission workloads shrank by 9 per cent. The value of jobs doubled in London and Wales, although in some regions, such as East Anglia, Scotland and The North, workloads are down on a year ago.
The findings, contained in the quarterly Construction Futures report, come shortly after the RIBA’s July Future Trends Survey reported its highest level of architects’ optimism concerning workloads and staffing since January 2009.
The research is also supported by a mid-term analysis of last year’s AJ100 practices compiled by Arturus partner Robert Guy, which showed just under half of the UK’s leading studios had taken on more ARB-registered architects between April and July.
The overall number of architects working for the country’s biggest 100 practices went up 73 to 4,315 during that period.
Among the practices to have seen their workforces grow are AHMM, Archial, Fosters + Partners. Keppie and Aukett Fitzroy Robinson.
Meanwhile data from the RIBA’s and Fees Bureau’s Employment and Earnings Survey shows the highest level of architects working full-time since 2007 – 22,100.
Amin Taha of Amin Taha Architects said: ‘Central London commercial and residential property is returning to pre-recession values. Overseas and institutional investment and government initiatives for permitted development and first time buyers have helped fuel the improvement in construction.’
Recruiters meanwhile witnessed a ‘major upturn’ from all sizes of practice. Place director Tamsyn Curley said: ‘Clients are looking for more people on permanent or longer-term contracts now than for five years.’
Stride Treglown director Dominic Eaton reported turnover and enquiries up on this time last year but warned developers were sometimes moving slowly.
‘I have a few projects that under normal circumstances would be up and running by now [but] given the current economic climate a due diligence exercise is taking months to undertake.’