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Sustainability key trend among architecture firms across the UK

Sustainable Architects
While COVID-19 has had adverse impacts on architecture firms in the UK, sustainability within the industry saw significant improvements.

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on architecture firms in the UK, according to the findings of the recently concluded AJ100 survey.

Overall, of the 101 ranked architecture firms in the UK, 98 had undergone furloughs, 59 had made pay cuts, and 56 had to undertake redundancies due to COVID-19. 

Moreover, the number of architects employed by firms ranked in the survey dropped to a five-year low, falling to 6,777 architects as compared to 7,001 architects in the previous year.

Aggregate fee income from architectural practices also dropped by 8.5%, and fees per architect fell to 8%. In terms of sectors, higher education, aviation and hospitality/leisure were badly hit. However, healthcare and school projects were sectors that saw some growth.

Architecture firms in the UK noted that COVID-19 had also affected studio culture and collaboration, as well as opportunities to network and be mentored. However, remote or hybrid working arrangements were well received amongst the respondents.

SUSTAINABILITY ANOTHER KEY TREND AMONG ARCHITECTURE FIRMS IN THE UK

This year’s AJ100 saw great gains in the field of sustainability for architecture firms in the UK.

The number of ranked architecture firms in the UK measuring whole-life carbon rose from 15% to 22%, whereas the proportion of those who did not dropped significantly, from 41% to 21%. The number of practices that never measure embodied carbon also fell to 18%, from 35% previously.

In terms of operational emissions, the proportion of architecture firms in the UK who never measure these reduced from 34 to 24%, with three quarters of ranked firms now measuring operational emissions.

Further, a majority of surveyed architecture firms in the UK claimed to have a specific approach to sustainability in their built projects, had a sustainability team in place, offered sustainability training, and measured their own carbon footprint.

FOSTER + PARTNERS IS UK'S LARGEST EMPLOYER FOR 10TH YEAR RUNNING

Retaining the top spot for the 10th consecutive year, Foster + Partners was ranked the largest employer of architects amongst architecture firms in the UK. The firm employs 383 architects in the UK.

Foster + Partners was followed by BDP with 353 architects, and Zaha Hadid Architects with 302 architects. Foster + Partners and Zaha Hadid Architects also dominated overseas architectural earnings, accounting for two-thirds of the total fees from overseas projects.

Further, Foster + Partners showed the greatest expansion by absolute employee numbers, adding 91 employees. It was followed by Zaha Hadid Architects, with 47 employees. 

On the other hand, BDP had the greatest absolute contraction, having reduced its staff headcount by 75.

 

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