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Soaring numbers of British architects look to register abroad

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More British architects have started the formal process of registering to practise abroad in the past two months than in the entirety of last year, it has emerged

The Architects Registration Board (ARB) revealed it had received 256 requests for certificates to work overseas between 8 March and 30 April 2019. This compared with 223 throughout all of 2018 – and just 105 in 2016.

The AJ reported earlier this year that an increasing number of UK architects were registering in Ireland and other European countries to maintain an EU presence post-Brexit.

Now the latest data from the ARB has shown the scale of the trend.

‘The number of certificates we have issued, which would potentially enable a UK architect to register in Europe, has increased exponentially in 2019, with 387 being issued in by close of April 2019,’ said the report from this month’s board meeting.

‘This is already 77 per cent higher than the entire annual total for 2018, when 223 were processed across the year and 54 in the first quarter.

‘Two hundred and fifty-six of these requests have come since we sent out a communication on 8 March 2019 informing registrants that they should contact us without delay if they have any questions about what Brexit might mean for ARB and their registration status.’

Meanwhile London and Cardiff-based Hutchinson & Partners this week announced plans to open a Berlin studio to ensure it keeps a foothold in the EU.

The practice, which in 2016 entered a competition design for the Bundestag Visitors’ Centre in the German capital, will set up there permanently in July.

Makower Architects co-founder Jörn Rabach will be joining Hutchinson & Partners to run the Berlin office. He has been interviewing for local architects with the ambition of ultimately growing the studio to the same size as the practice’s London office.

Principal director Ross Hutchinson said: ‘The opening of our Berlin office has been a long-held ambition, but it has taken on a particular relevance in the context of Brexit.

‘With a German wife and half-German daughter and a practice with many talented Europeans, it means a lot to me, personally and professionally, to make a positive expression of kinship with our European friends at a time of such negativity and regression in the UK,’ he said.

‘We look forward to discovering and practising in this fascinatingly complex city and to seeing how the experience we gain will influence our approach to practice, architecture and how we live and work.’

RIBA research in February showed that a large number of major UK practices were preparing to slash staff numbers as the prospect of a no-deal Brexit loomed.

It also emerged that an increasing number of architects were registering in Ireland in a bid to avoid being frozen out of work on the Continent in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Norman Foster and David Chipperfield signed a letter in January stating the priority for the prime minister had to be avoiding ‘crashing out of the EU with no deal at all’. 

Greater London Authority data released in March showed that 31 per cent of architecture jobs in the capital were held by non-UK members of the union. Further findings included that £571 million of architectural services were exported from the UK in 2018.

Meanwhile, the number of non-UK EU nationals registering in the UK has also risen, with 422 in the first quarter of 2019, up from 232 in the same period the prior year, 331 in 2017 and 333 in 2016.

ARB papers showed a that 7,192 such architects were registered on 27 August 2018 – up from 6,943 at the start of 2018.

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