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Economic slump could leave a fifth of architects out of work, warns expert

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A leading housing expert has warned that up to 20 per cent of architects working on residential schemes could be out of work by Christmas.

David Birkbeck (pictured), chief executive of think tank Design for Homes, told the AJ about the possible impact of the credit crunch on the house-building market. 'By the end of the year,' Birkbeck said, '20 per cent of jobs in specialist housing practices could be gone.'

Birkbeck pinpointed the Midlands and the North West as the areas where the most architects would be culled. And he warned that London-based practices may close their satellite offices in these regions.

Manchester-based MBLA Architects has confirmed it has already made three staff redundant and has also decided not to take on a pair of Part 2 students. The firm now employs 30 staff.

Practice director Ian Beaumont said: ‘The residential sector has slowed and we have taken prudent action.

‘[We are not] surprised others are looking carefully at their staffing – you would be very unwise not to in the current climate.’

Roger Stephenson, regional chair for RIBA North West, added: ‘New and existing housing projects of all kinds are not happening or have been stopped in their tracks, so if your portfolio of work is mostly housing you will be having big problems.’

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