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Chipperfield and other leading architects urge government to let EU nationals stay in UK

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Leading architects including Richard Rogers, David Chipperfield and Amanda Levete have urged the government to clarify its position on EU nationals living in the UK, warning that Brexit will have ‘deeply negative consequences’ for the profession 

In an open letter, published in The Guardian, the 20 architects and designers –  also including Peter Cook, Farshid Moussavi and Will Alsop – said the UK profession had ‘benefited enormously’ from EU nationals.

They said they feared the government was using EU nationals living in the UK as a ‘negotiating chip’, asserting that this was not the behaviour of a ’civilised society’.

In February this year, an RIBA report found that 25 per cent of architects working in the UK were non-UK EU citizens. 

The letter’s signatories also include Chris Wilkinson, John Pawson, Bob Allies, Patty and Michael Hopkins, Eva Jiricna and 2016 Stirling Prize winners Adam Caruso and Peter St John.

A spokesperson from David Chipperfield Architects told the AJ that 56 per cent of its 96 staff in its London office are non-UK EU citizens and European Economic Area (EEA) nationals. 

They write: ‘Regardless of the inevitable commercial damage, most of us believe [leaving the EU] will have deeply negative consequences by severely limiting the transfer of information, ideas and influence, as well as restricting common programmes of education and research.

‘While we are fearful about the future in general, we are particularly concerned about the government’s attitude towards EU nationals. We have benefited enormously from the transfer of knowledge and influence that results from EU nationals working in the UK.’

They add: ‘Within this context, we are appalled that the government should use those who have made considerable personal and professional commitments to this country, and who enrich our culture, as a negotiating chip.

‘This is not the behaviour of a civilised society, and runs counter to the British traditions of decency and fairness. We have no doubt whatsoever that the people of this country would not accept the eviction of EU nationals and see no reason why this unusable threat should remain on the table.’

The letter concludes by saying: ‘We ask that the government immediately clarifies this situation, otherwise we will not only lose our place in Europe but lose our dignity in the process.’

The letter

The architectural profession, as well as the wider body of creative and cultural industries, is extremely concerned about the impact of the decision to leave the EU. Regardless of the inevitable commercial damage, most of us believe this will have deeply negative consequences by severely limiting the transfer of information, ideas and influence, as well as restricting common programmes of education and research.

While we are fearful about the future in general, we are particularly concerned about the government’s attitude towards EU nationals. We have benefited enormously from the transfer of knowledge and influence that results from EU nationals working in the UK. Furthermore, we have benefited from our ability as individuals and as companies to trade services and knowledge with our European neighbours, creating a better understanding between peoples.

Within this context, we are appalled that the government should use those who have made considerable personal and professional commitments to this country, and who enrich our culture, as a negotiating chip. This is not the behaviour of a civilised society, and runs counter to the British traditions of decency and fairness. We have no doubt whatsoever that the people of this country would not accept the eviction of EU nationals and see no reason why this unusable threat should remain on the table.

We ask that the government immediately clarifies this situation, otherwise we will not only lose our place in Europe but lose our dignity in the process.

Bob Allies

Will Alsop

Ron Arad

Adam Caruso

David Chipperfield

Peter Cook

Trevor Dannatt

Tony Fretton

Michael Hopkins

Patty Hopkins

Eva Jiricna

Amanda Levete

Farshid Moussavi

Eric Parry

John Pawson

Richard Rogers

Alan Stanton

Peter St John

Paul Williams

Chris Wilkinson

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Readers' comments (1)

  • shameful "David Chipperfield Architects told the AJ that 56 per cent of its 96 staff in its London office are non-UK EU citizens" and he is PROUD of that ???
    Eric Parry, Bob Allies and other sigantories taught at UK universities but apparently feel no compunction to employ UK nationals, saddled with enormous student debt. The argument that essential skills are only available by free movement is specious. It is racist. British employers will do anything to avoid having to employ the stephen lawrences of inner city UK. Post colonial UK has far stronger ties with non-EU countries from Hong Kong to Jamaica. The studios may be stuffed with cannon fodder from EU free movement, struggling on their pathetic salaries, but the board room isn't.

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