Leading architectural practices Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) and SimpsonHaugh have announced they are backing the Remain campaign in the EU referendum
Yesterday (20 June) RSHP posted a statement on the company’s website saying a vote to leave the European Union on Thursday (23 June) would ‘represent a catastrophic error of judgement in its impact on our economy, not least within the construction sector’.
The practice, whose workforce consists of more than 40 per cent non-British EU citizens, said that a move towards Brexit would ‘leave us culturally, socially and environmentally impoverished’.
AJ100 big hitter SimpsonHaugh and Partners released a similar statement from its staff saying ‘leaving the EU would rob us of the cultural diversity and exchange that contributes to producing great architecture’.
The firm claimed that a number of its major schemes could not have been built if the UK had been outside the EU.
The statement reads: ‘Our clients, projects and people benefit from the cultural and creative diversity that is possible due to Britain’s openness within the EU. We believe that without confidence in the strength, stability and security the British economy has inside the EU, many of our key projects wouldn’t have happened, and we wouldn’t be the thriving architectural practice we are today.’
But the RIBA has told the AJ that it is unable to make any comment about the EU referendum and the impact of a possible Brexit on its members because of the rules governing charities.
An institute spokesperson said: ‘We encourage debate among our members and the wider construction industry about the impact on the architecture profession and construction industry of an exit from the EU. The RIBA has a broad membership and there will be differing views. Whatever the referendum decides, we will continue to work to ensure the best outcomes for our members and the institute.
The RIBA has decided that it has no option but to refrain from making any comments
’As a registered charity the RIBA must comply with strict guidance from the Charity Commission on our public statements regarding the EU referendum. Given this, the RIBA has decided that it has no option but to refrain from making any comments on this issue.’
UNIT Architects are backing Remain. pic.twitter.com/su3gxkiGDL— UNIT Architects (@UNITArchitects) June 20, 2016
Statement from Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners firmly believe that remaining within the European Union is in the best interests of the United Kingdom.
Britain has always been at its best when we have engaged with our neighbours, embracing the exchange of people, ideas and influences. The quality of life in Britain, particularly its architecture and its cities, has greatly benefited from the personal, professional and cultural relationships we have with the rest of Europe. This interaction has made us more civilized.
More than 40 per cent of the staff at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners are non-British EU citizens. These individuals stimulate and enrich our practice through the diversity of perspectives they bring to our work, their extraordinary talent and dynamism. A significant proportion of the practice’s work is currently situated within the EU and many of our greatest projects have been built in Europe.
As a practice we think that leaving the European Union would represent a catastrophic error of judgement in its impact on our economy, not least within the construction sector. Importantly, it would also leave us culturally, socially and environmentally impoverished. We are convinced that we are better and stronger together than apart.
Statement from SimpsonHaugh and Partners
Our clients, projects and people benefit from the cultural and creative diversity that is possible due to Britain’s openness within the EU. We believe that without confidence in the strength, stability and security the British economy has inside the EU, many of our key projects wouldn’t have happened, and we wouldn’t be the thriving architectural practice we are today.
Sharing creativity and talent
SHP’s success relies on employing the most talented and creative individuals. Freedom within the EU to travel, study and work has added to the UK knowledge base and given the practice access to an enriched pool of creative design talent. With Britons and Europeans free to travel, study and work across the EU, the collective knowledge base, understanding and passion has strengthened, providing us with an enriched talent pool to choose from. The varying cultural experiences converge in a melting pot of ideas and inspiration, upon which the successful future of our built communities and place-making depends.
Non-British EU citizens currently make up 20 per cent of SHP staff. Leaving the EU would rob us of the cultural diversity and exchange that contributes to producing great architecture.
Expanding across the EU
Having access to EU markets and influence has allowed SHP to work on projects outside of the UK. This brings new opportunities to expand our portfolio and presents new challenges from which to learn, helping us build a brighter future for our employees. We are currently completing a landmark cultural project in Antwerp, a 2,000-seat concert hall and new home for the DeFilharmonie orchestra. Common rules and trade regulations have made this possible.
Supporting equal pay and non-discrimination
Equal pay for men and women is enshrined in EU law, as are bans on discrimination by age, race or sexual orientation. Membership of the EU has allowed important challenges to traditional inequalities in the UK construction industry. As partners with the AR Women in Architecture campaign, we are aware that while the profession achieves equal numbers of female and male intake to university courses, it hasn’t resolved how to stop female architects from dropping out of the industry post qualification. The solution to this is best coordinated and established with our European counterparts – together we are stronger.