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aj 100

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aj 100

The positives of the PFI story include the notion that companies building hospitals, schools etc under this method are incentivised to look to a 'whole life' approach and minimise the maintenance they have to carry out. Another, found to be the case by the Audit Commission in 29 of 37 projects it surveyed, was to do with a greater level of price certainty.

Where there had been price increases, it said, it had been due to changes led not by the contractor but by the department or other parties. In most cases, they were delivered on time, quicker than in using traditional methods. In the 2001 Modernising Construction report, for instance, the Audit Commission (again) found that 70 per cent of central government's construction projects were delivered late. And, anecdotally, the doctors and teachers in receipt of new hospitals and schools, usually through PFI, experience such a step change from their previous facilities that they have what has been termed a 'halo effect'. That is, their new surroundings are heaven compared to the hell of their previous outmoded buildings.

PFI, proportionally In the above table, we have listed the big PFI players, ranking them according to the percentage of their total work they do in PFI. For HLM, which would not provide details of the cash value of such work, it is a very high proportion indeed - over two thirds of its output. Last year it did provide details, getting around £5 million from PFI jobs. Nightingale has strictly kept its PFI work at 60 per cent, in line with its projection last time, whereas Keppie thinks it will increase by a half its reliance on the method.

Architects Co-Partnership, too, has shifted up a gear, in line with its projections, while it is interesting to note practices like Avanti believing PFI is likely to represent a much enlarged proportion of the fees it brings in.

Anshen Dyer, now with ex-Avanti man John Cooper, is looking to grow its PFI work by 15 per cent more.And Ryder, again, is another firm seeing more PFI in its crystal ball, along with companies like TPS Consult and Hickton Madeley Architects. Aedas AHR is the only practice in the list bucking the trend, feeling that it will be cutting back in this area.

World view

What is the split of projects globally?

How is that likely to change under altering boundaries and political pressures?

A look at the bar chart below gives an indication of which regions represent the biggest opportunities for UK practices. But it must be remembered that the information represents what our surveyed architects feel will be the areas of opportunity, hence the inclusion of a column for 2003.

Since 2001, opportunities in America have appeared to have been on the increase, the chunk of projects outside the United Kingdom done by UK architects there rising from seven per cent in 2001, to 14 per cent.

Work in the US hit a 15 per cent high in the 2000 AJ100 judgment.

The biggest area is still of course Western Europe, though the proportion is on the slide: down to 57 per cent from 62 per cent in 2002 and 65 per cent in 2001.

Architects in the AJ100 this time out feel that work will diminish in the Middle East and Far East this year, down from five per cent and 16 per cent to three per cent and 11 per cent respectively.

War and political unrest were cited as potential threats to the profession, alongside other factors which are discussed later.

Africa will remain as it was, down from a high expectation in 2000, when the split was far more equal across the board. Meanwhile, it was felt that opportunities are also on the rise in Australasia and Eastern Europe.

On the world scene, one of the major movements occurred just last month, with a start of professional negotiations between the Architects' Council of Europe and National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, together with the American Institute of Architects, on a mutual recognition agreement.

Signing of the agreement should allow UK practices to work abroad more freely and adequately licensed US architects to work here.

Negotiations are expected to be concluded midway through next year.

Future shock

And finally, how do our surveyed practices feel that the future is going to shape up, sectorally (below) and with regards to external pressures on the profession and business (opposite)?

The stand-out bar on the new work opportunities chart below is 'other public building'. Architects in our survey project this as the area of real growth, from a low of 20 per cent of work predicted in 2001 to almost half - 47 per cent - in the coming 12 months.

Housing, both private and public, is up, perhaps in line with deputy prime minister John Prescott's ofttrumpeted targets for housebuilding in this country, and house prices, which continue to rise nationally, but especially in the capital.

Attempting to meet the demand through brownfield housing schemes or the government's series of millennium communities might represent one way out. Private housing is up almost to one fifth (16.5 per cent) from 13 per cent last year, while public is on the up from six per cent to 11 per cent - the largest proportion projected in the AJ100's five year history.

Transport projects are also set to grow, feels our sample, rising to 12 per cent, another all time high, while conservation is perceived to be an area that is up marginally.

On the downside, though, is firstly offices, mirroring an oversupply in the capital, difficulties in lettings and, perhaps, a lack of corporate confidence. The offices market is predicted to slump from its high of 17 per cent of work in 2001, to 10 per cent last year, down to virtually nothing in the year to come.

With industrial it is a similar story, although the slope is not so steep.

Industrial was projected to account for around six per cent in 2001, two per cent last year and again, virtually nothing over the next year.

Retail is down again, and finally, so is leisure. This is projected to fall as a proportion of the work that AJ100 practices do over 2003, continuing a dramatic slide since the AJ100 started. In 1999 it was almost a third of all work. Now, though, architects feel that the leisure boom is over.

Threats and opportunities

Anecdotally, many architects are reporting that times are hard, and that work is difficult to come by, even for well-respected, big name practices.

The survey looks at some of the reasons AJ100 practices are ascribing to the major threats faced by the profession as a whole.

Noticeably, the biggest of these is the dreaded 'R'word, recession. There has been a marked jump, from 26 per cent of those surveyed last year citing it as the main cause of concern, to 39 per cent marking their surveys with their gloomy view of the economic situation.

Consequently, people are slightly less concerned by fee levels, though the drop is only by four per cent.

But there is a marked change in attitudes to PFI, reflecting perhaps that architects are becoming more comfortable with the method and/or the measures being taken by bodies such as CABE to push design more centre-stage. Where last year almost one in five thought PFI/PPP consortia were giving far too little power to their architects, this year it is down to one in eight.

Worries about poor education standards in the architectural sector, often expressed during the year in dispatches while the ARB and RIBA try to settle disputes over validation, are also to the fore, but have levelled off at 10 per cent.

Planning regulations and environmental, community and heritage groups appear less bothersome, as do ill-informed and arrogant clients - perhaps they're getting better in both respects. The 'other' reasons cited as major threats to the practice of architecture range from the political: 'war'; to xenophobic: 'non-UK practices'; to bureaucratic: 'planning departments' performances'.

But there is no doubt that Hellman's architect (right) is more concerned this year.

He's still sure the future is looking bright for architects - just not as sure as last time. RIBA president Paul Hyett has one answer: the practices which get success will be those which 'roll their sleeves up' and take advantage of new funding mechanisms, agendas and forms of procurement. Simple. Isn't it?

Should smaller practices be given incentives to take part in PFI projects?

Yes 51% No 49%

Foster and Partners' £490 million transformation of the Treasury building in London (above) has also been held up as a good example of how PFI can improve design within the public sector.Permanent secretary Sir Andrew Turnbull branded it an 'efficient, modern workspace'which delivered exactly what the client wanted at the opening of the flagship project last November.

£34.4bn is the total government is set to spend in 2003/04 on the biggest building programme since the 1960s.

25-30% of the total contract value in PFI accommodation projects such as hospitals or prisons goes on the construction element.

PFI hospitals last year included Maap Architects'PFI design for residential mental health care at Highcroft Hospital in Birmingham (AJ 14/11/02) Foster and Partners' Jiushi Headquarters building in Shanghai.

The 40-storey tower, a rare project by a British architect in China, was awarded the country's highest construction honour, the 'Lu Ban'prize, last month.

From Russia with love: ABK's British Embassy in Moscow.The £81 million scheme, designed as four separate pavilions connected at their base, won a RIBA Award.'Throughout the building there is evidence of enormous attention to detail executed in a confident, classic modern vocabulary, ' the judges concluded.

Sauerbruch Hutton's GSW headquarters in Berlin, the extension of an office tower which was one of the first buildings to be built as part of the city's reconstruction during the 1950s.

The project was shortlisted for the RIBA's Stirling Prize in 2000 and was followed by the architect with the Photonics Centre, also in Berlin.

How well suited for employment are architects straight out of Part II?

The answer, again, is pessimistic, rather than optimistic, with the vast majority (88 per cent) thinking they are indifferent, bad, or very bad.

£5bn is spent by local councils on construction every year Source: Local Government Taskforce Architects in the AJ100 survey feel that, as opposed to the offices sector, it is public buildings like the Bristol Learning Centre, above, which are set to get a boost this year.The project, at Brislington School and designed by the Alec French Partnership, scooped the Prime Minister's Award for Better Public Buildings last October ahead of candidates like the Stirling winner, Gateshead Millennium Bridge.

25% was the take up in offices in the first nine months of last year down by a quarter from the year before due to global economic downturn, according to Knight Frank.

Availability was 54 per cent higher in the third quarter on a year earlier, while demand for office space fell by 41 per cent over the period 'as firms retrench in response to the global economic slowdown affecting business decisions.'

24m is the projected total number of households in the UK by 2021, from 21 million in 2000 and 20.2 million in 1996. But the emphasis is on one person households - 6.3 million of the 21 million in 2000 were one person households, projected to grow to 8.5 million by 2021.

61% of planning decisions in London were taken within eight weeks during 2001, the worst performance in the UK.The North East is the best, making 68 per cent in the time frame.

2005 is when construction output is expected to pick up again after it slows 'significantly' in the next two years, says the Construction Products Association.Output in 2002 is expected to have increased by over seven per cent - the largest annual increase since 1988 - driven by a significant increase in government spending on construction.But a sharp decline in private sector investment over the next two years will reduce output growth to 3.7 per cent in 2003 and just 0.6 per cent in 2004, before it begins to pick up in 2005, growing by 1.3 per cent.

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