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RIBA News & Events 2021

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post updated 23 September 2021

RIBA UK News

Architects show tempered optimismRIBA Future Trends August 2021

Thursday 23 September 2021 – The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has published the latest Future Trends survey results, a monthly report of the business and employment trends affecting the architects’ profession.

In August 2021 the overall RIBA Future Trends Workload Index remained in strongly positive territory, returning a balance figure of +18. The fall in the overall balance figure is solely due to fewer practices expecting workloads to grow in the coming three months and more expecting them to stay the same. The proportion expecting workloads to decrease (9%) is the same this month as last.

For the sixth successive month, all regions expect workloads to grow over the next three months. Optimism in London has moderated, with a balance figure of +12, down 5 points from July’s figure of +17.  While this is the sixth successive month of confidence in the capital, it is the second month of a falling balance.

Optimism in the South of England has fallen back 13 points to +20 after July’s sharp rise to +33. Expectation about future workloads is strong but falling in all other regions. The Midlands & East Anglia has posted a balance figure of +17, down 10 points, the North of England +26, also down 10 points. Wales and the West has fallen 15 points, from +28 in July to +13 in August.

In August, workloads were 7% up on a year ago and all regions and practice sizes remained confident about future prospects.

Our members report that shortages of construction materials continue to disrupt project delivery, as does a growing lack of on-site fitters and skilled tradespeople.  Construction cost increases are gathering pace.

The outlook of small practices (1 – 10 staff) continues to be optimistic but has again fallen back to +16, an 8 point reduction from July’s +24.  Confidence among large and medium sized practices (11 – 50 and 51+ staff) remains very strong at +36, but has fallen again from July’s figure of +47.

While the private housing and commercial sectors remain positive, work in both the public and community sectors is expected to contract. In August, the private housing sector posted a balance figure of +21; still historically strong but down 6 points from last month’s figure of +27. The commercial sector dropped a single point this month to +10. In August the public sector fell into negative territory with a balance figure -2.  Promises of public sector capital investment have yet to translate into current or anticipated work for architects. With a balance of -4 in August, it has been 18 months since the community sector posted a positive figure.

In terms of staffing:

  • Whilst positive at +7, the RIBA Future Trends Permanent Staffing Index fell back by 6 balance points in August from the previous month’s figure of +13.
  • 11% (down by 7%) of practices expect to employ more permanent staff over the coming three months, whilst 4% expect to employ fewer, down by 1% from July.  85% (up 8%) expect staffing levels to stay the same over the coming 3 months.
  • Personal underemployment stayed the same as July at 16%.

RIBA Head of Economic Research and Analysis, Adrian Malleson, said:

“Overall, the August Future Trends survey continues to show broad-based confidence amongst the profession, however, confidence is softening across the board.

In part, the outlook is settling following the surge in optimism that followed the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions and the successful vaccination programme.  Nevertheless, architects face numerous challenges which together are somewhat dampening expectations about future workload. These challenges include the ongoing effects of the pandemic, the current trading relationship with the EU, and shortages of materials and tradespeople.

Commentary from practices this month highlights the recurrent issues of construction product shortages and associated prices rises, planning application delays, cost increases (particularly Professional Indemnity Insurance) and pressure on fees.

There are significant positives, however. Many practices are continuing to report increasing workloads, a full pipeline of projects, and staff being recruited to meet demand.  Personal underemployment is low, workloads are up on last year, and growth is expected to continue.

RIBA is reporting findings to government and working with other bodies in the built environment to monitor ongoing trends. We continue to be on hand, providing support and resources to our members.”

16 Sep 2021

RIBA responds to Cabinet reshuffle

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has responded to the Prime Minister’s Cabinet reshuffle, which saw Michael Gove appointed as Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

RIBA President, Simon Allford, said:
“This is a critical time for the built environment. Globally, we are preparing to host COP26, which must lead to ambitious actions and targets to ensure we are on track to reach net zero. At national level, we are also about to witness the most significant planning system reforms for generations, which have the potential to positively address the quality and sustainability of new developments across the country. The new Secretary of State must get this right, and secure the investment needed. We wish him well on his mission.

We are engaging with government on all the above; and working hard to ensure the long-awaited Building Safety Bill delivers fundamental reform and leads to the culture change our sector, profession and society desperately needs.

I look forward to continuing our liaison with the MHCLG and new Secretary of State, and hope we can count on him to promote the critical role of architects in delivering high-quality buildings for future generations.”

15 Sep 2021
RIBA publishes new Design for Manufacture and Assembly guidance

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has published a new edition of the Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) Overlay to the RIBA Plan of Work, alongside an accompanying guide.

The new Overlay aligns with the 2020 Plan of Work and details the relevant tasks that must be actioned at each project stage to successfully deploy the DfMA approach.

It reflects the huge technological advances that have been made to popularise the design process, and uses case studies to demonstrate the potential of the evolving method.

The Overlay has been produced by a group of industry experts led by Nigel Ostime, Partner at Hawkins\Brown, and Ian Heptonstall, Director of the Supply Chain Sustainability School. Publication of the report has been kindly supported by Akerlof, Buildoffsite, Kier, Supply Chain Sustainability School and UK Research and Innovation, and endorsed by Mark Farmer, Founder of Cast Consultancy and UK Government MMC Champion for Homebuilding.

RIBA President, Simon Allford, said:

“The new DfMA Overlay marks a significant development. By embedding this delivery mechanism within the RIBA Plan of Work, we are acknowledging the proven potential of DfMA solutions to produce not only good outcomes, but great architecture, as the case studies show. I firmly believe the built environment must explore this territory to meet the challenges ahead and – as custodians of good design – architects have the potential to lead its adoption. I commend this detailed guide and thank everybody who has contributed to its development.”

Mark Farmer, Founder of Cast Consultancy and UK Government Champion for Homebuilding, said:

“At a time when the construction industry’s inherent fragility is being exposed more than ever, there is even more focus on changing the traditionally accepted methods of doing things which are no longer fit for purpose. This Overlay therefore comes at a crucial time and if we are to fully enable adoption of technology and modern methods of construction and the better outcomes we strive for, then the overarching principles of how we initiate projects and organise the design and production process needs to be reformed and this Overlay provides a blueprint for that. The high profile of the RIBA’s Plan of Work as a project management and control tool makes the Overlay a practical and powerful addition to the tools necessary to modernise the industry and I look forward to seeing its adoption across industry.”

Download the Overlay and accompanying guide here.

14 Sep 2021
RIBA reveals shortlist for Stephen Lawrence Prize 2021
Stephen Lawrence Prize 2021 Shortlist News

23 August 2021
RIBA urges Government to drive forward Bacon Review recommendations

Monday 23 August 2021 – The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has responded to the Government-commissioned Independent review into scaling up self-build and custom housebuilding, led by Richard Bacon MP.

The final report – informed by a roundtable held with RIBA members – makes recommendations to Government on how to support growth in all parts of the custom and self-build market.

RIBA President, Alan Jones, said:

“By supporting more people to design and construct their own home, we will not only boost supply, but grow the proportion of bespoke homes that support higher levels of wellbeing and contribute more positively to local areas.

In addition to raising awareness of the Right to Build, and using planning reforms to support the delivery of custom and self-build homes, I strongly welcome the recommendation to use this delivery mechanism to accelerate Net Zero ambitions. I also have high hopes for the £150m Help to Build scheme, which should allow self and custom home building to become a realistic option.

All recommendations clearly align with the Government’s levelling up agenda and Building Beautiful plans – I urge policymakers to drive them forward.”

16 August 2021
RIBA responds to Government call for evidence to shape future profession

Monday 16th of August 2021 – The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has responded to the call for evidence, launched today by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), for those working in architecture and the built environment.

RIBA President, Alan Jones, said:

“This Government call for evidence is very timely indeed. The climate emergency and building safety crisis continue to prompt and prove the urgent need for regulated architects’ expertise throughout the entire timeline of each project.

This call provides an opportunity to demonstrate the value architects bring to society and expand upon issues the profession faces, including those that have stemmed from impending changes to legislation, such as ensuring professional competence and brokering MRPQ agreements.

I urge the entire profession to contribute, and I look forward to reading the final report.”

12 August 2021

Slow planning process causing project delays for architects – RIBA Future Trends July 2021

Thursday 12th of August 2021 – The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has published the latest Future Trends survey results, a monthly report of the business and employment trends affecting the architects’ profession.

In July 2021 the overall RIBA Future Trends Workload Index remained in strongly positive territory, returning a balance figure of +27. Whilst this is a four-point decrease on June’s results, architects remain very positive about future workloads. Actual workloads are 12% up on a year ago. 36% of practices expect workloads to grow in the coming three months, 55% expect them to remain the same, and 9% expect them to decrease. These results indicate that recovery continues.

Workload is expected to increase in three of the four workloads sectors – Private Housing, Commercial, and the Public Sector – suggesting growth to come. Pessimism about future work is only to be found in the Community sector. All regions continue to expect workloads to increase in the next three months, as do all practice sizes.

For several months, architects have been reporting concerns about the impact on projects caused by delays in the processing of planning applications. The key findings are:

• Thirty per cent of practices report some projects being delayed by six months or more
• Seven per cent report some projects being abandoned
• Thirty-nine per cent report some projects being delayed by up to a month
• Sixty per cent report some projects being delayed by between one and six months
• Twenty-two per cent report no projects delayed or abandoned

Commentary from practices this month also continue to highlight significant challenges in obtaining affordable and suitably comprehensive Professional Indemnity Insurance, and ongoing challenges around product availability and costs.

Site labour and practice staffing levels are being affected by Covid-19 infections and isolation. Some practices are beginning to report difficulties in recruiting staff, with a suggestion that this is exacerbated by the furlough scheme serving to dampen staff movement.

Private Housing continues to lead the workload recovery, with a balance figure up one point to +28. The sector remains strongly positive, with 38% expecting further workload growth to come. The commercial sector posted a balance figure of +11 down two points from June’s figure of +13.

With a balance figure in July of +2, expectations about future work in the public sector remain positive, but only just. The community sector remains in negative territory, posting a balance figure of -3. The sector has returned a negative or zero balance figure for 17 successive months.

Once again, all regions expect workloads to grow over the next three months, however optimism in London has fallen, with a balance figure of +17, down 11 points from June’s figure of +28. Nevertheless, this is the fifth month in a row that the capital has reported an expectation of increasing workloads. In contrast, optimism in the South of England rose sharply this month, with a balance figure of +33, an increase of sixteen points from last month’s figure of +17.

The Midlands & East Anglia held steady at +27, down just 1 point from June. Confidence in North of England is high but has moderated this month, with a balance figure of +36, down from +49 in June. Wales & the West at +28 has also seen confidence fall back, with a fall (from +45 in June).

In terms of staffing:

• At +13, the RIBA Future Trends Permanent Staffing Index rose slightly, increasing by two balance points from last month’s figure of +11.
• 18% (up by 2%) of practices expect to employ more permanent staff over the coming three months, whilst 5% expect to employ fewer, the same figures as July. 77% (down 2%) expect staffing levels to stay the same over the coming 3 months.
• Personal underemployment rose slightly by 2% and now stands at a to 16%

RIBA Head of Economic Research and Analysis, Adrian Malleson, said:

“Overall, the July Future Trends survey shows a sustained and broad-based confidence in the profession, as recovery gathers pace.
Practices are reporting healthy enquiry levels and projects scheduled for up to a year ahead. Many practices are actively recruiting to meet the new levels of demand.

Significant issues remain, however, regarding affordable and suitably comprehensive Professional Indemnity Insurance, product availability and attendant inflationary pressures, local authority delays in processing planning applications and site and practice staffing shortages.

The RIBA has been actively lobbying the Government around planning delays. There have been some useful reforms including digitisation that have come about as a result, but we do need to see planning departments fully resourced to deal with this ongoing backlog.

The RIBA is having regular conversations with MHCLG, the ARB and politicians to highlight the urgent need for action to address issues in the Professional Indemnity Assurance market. The rise in cost combined with the reduction in the scope of coverage is deeply concerning. We will use the upcoming debates on the Building Safety Bill to push the Government to look at options for reform.

RIBA is reporting findings to government and working with other bodies in the built environment to monitor ongoing trends. We continue to be on hand, providing support and resources to our members as they navigate these challenging times.”

29 July 2021
RIBA responds to National Disability Strategy
Thursday 29th of July 2021 – The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has responded to the National Disability Strategy, which sets out actions the Government will take to improve the everyday lives of all disabled people.

RIBA President Alan Jones said:

“We have been clear that the Government should develop a framework to implement accessible and adaptable design as a baseline for all new homes, and we’re therefore encouraged by this commitment to reforming the framework, and ongoing consultations on raising accessibility standards, to ensure more accessible housing is built.

To drive change, we urgently need solid timescales, plans and funding. Building Back Better must be built on a foundation of equity and enable us to deliver accessible, inclusive and sustainable post-pandemic communities. ‘Levelling up’ must be done in collaboration with the communities it seeks to serve, and so it is disappointing that the consultation failed to work with disabled people to design a strategy that will stand the test of time and is built upon concrete funding commitments. If the Government is serious about ‘levelling up’, it must undertake immediate action to put an end to the marginalisation and inequalities faced by the over 11 million disabled people living in the UK.”

29 July 2021
RIBA reveals judges for the 185th President’s Medals
RIBA President's Medals 2021: Student Awards
photo courtesy of Royal Institute of British Architects
RIBA President’s Medals Student Awards 2021
Thursday 29th of July 2021 – The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has revealed the judges for the 185th President’s Medals, the world’s most prestigious awards in architectural education. The medals are now open for entry to architecture students around the world.

17 July 2021
Architects report onsite delays due to product shortages – RIBA Future Trends June 2021

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has published the latest Future Trends survey results, a monthly report monitoring business and employment trends affecting the architects’ profession.

In June 2021 the overall RIBA Future Trends Workload Index stayed at a similar level to May, increasing slightly by 1 point to a balance figure of +31. Optimism about future workloads remains strong. Actual workloads are 11% higher than a year ago. 38% of practices expect workloads to grow in the coming three months, 54% expect them to remain the same, and 7% expect them to decrease. These results indicate that recovery continues.

In January’s Future Trends report, 63% suggested that the new trading arrangement with the EU would have a detrimental effect on the availability of building materials.  In June’s Future Trends, the RIBA asked whether building materials shortages are affecting architects’ work. The results showed that difficulties in sourcing construction products are causing on-site delays for 63% of practices, and a quarter (25%) report site work being put on hold.  Delays are not restricted to the construction stages, with 18% reporting delays in the design process.

Other reports received of significant challenges to the architect’s market include:

  • labour shortages
  • difficulty obtaining affordable Professional Indemnity Insurance with the right level of cover
  • the speed of the planning application process causing project delays
  • shortages of construction products disrupting project delivery and creating project cost inflation
  • the potential effects of the gathering third wave and the planned lifting of Covid-19 restrictions

Once again, all regions expect workloads to grow over the next three months. The North of England (+49), and Wales & the West (+45) are the two most positive regions. Optimism in London continues to grow, with a balance figure of +28, up from +22 in May.  This month is the first time London has exceeded February 2020’s pre-pandemic figure of +22

Private housing continues to outperform other sectors with a very positive balance figure of +27. Whilst this is a fall of fifteen points on May’s all-time high of +42, only one in ten practices expect a decrease in private housing work.

The commercial sector is showing signs of sustained recovery, positing a balance figure of +13, up four points. This is the highest balance score for the sector since the EU referendum was held. Optimism about the public sector remains comparatively muted, with a balance figure in June of +4, down from +5 in May. The community sector persistently remains in negative territory, posting a balance figure of -6, down from -3 in May.

On balance, all regions expect workloads to increase in the next three months, as do all sizes of practice.

In terms of staffing:

  • The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index dipped back down to April’s level of +11 after a slight increase in May.
  • 16% (down by 3%) of practices expect to employ more permanent staff over the coming three months, whilst 5% expect to employ fewer, the same figures as June.  79% (up 3%) expect staffing levels to stay the same over the coming 3 months.
  • Personal underemployment fell again by 2% and now stands at a to 14%

RIBA Head of Economic Research and Analysis, Adrian Malleson, said:

“Overall, the June Future Trends findings indicate that the recovery in the architecture market continues.  The overall workload balance has been holding at around +30 throughout the second quarter of 2021. Private housing remains strong, and the commercial sector continues to recover. No region expects workloads to contract, and some are very optimistic.

The delays and shortages of building materials that we report are not solely the result of the UK leaving the EU.  There is increased demand for materials, both within the UK and overseas, as construction activity gathers pace.  The effects of the Suez Canal blockage are still unwinding.  The UK is experiencing workforce shortages within important areas, such as distribution (especially HGV drivers) and among builders merchants; though this is also linked to Brexit.

Nevertheless, the commentary received in June continues to reflect a positive market. Many practices report increasing enquiries and workloads, particularly in the private housing sector.”

15 July 2021
RIBA launches Fire Safety Compliance Tracker

Thursday 15th of July 2021 – The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has launched a new tool for its members to record and share fire safety information.

The RIBA Fire Safety Compliance Tracker records how a project has been designed and developed in accordance with Part B (Fire Safety) of the Building Regulations.

It can be used to provide compliance information to the design team or kept internally within your practice to help your team track compliance and to confirm the architectural design aligns with the fire strategy

The Tracker is based on the International Fire Safety Standard: Common Principles (IFSS-CP) and its associated Framework.

Find out more about RIBA’s work to drive building safety regulatory reform here.

RIBA President, Alan Jones, said:

“This is a valuable new tool that will help architects to demonstrate the detailed steps they have taken to protect buildings and people from the risk of fire. We remain seriously concerned about the rising costs of Professional Indemnity Insurance and the increasing prevalence of fire safety exclusions, and hope this new Tracker will provide additional reassurance for brokers and clients. I strongly encourage all practices to start working with it on their projects.”

RIBA Fire Safety Expert Advisory Group Chair, Jane Duncan, said:

“2021 marks the beginning of long-overdue regulatory reform prompted by the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, subsequent Hackitt Review and vociferous calls from the RIBA and others for clearer, stronger and enforceable regulations. It’s clear the whole industry requires a culture change, and I’m proud of RIBA’s efforts to place architects at the forefront. That includes the introduction of fire safety mandatory competences and this new tool, which will guide critical decision making and assist members to demonstrate regulatory compliance.”

We have added a useful resource post:

Performing Expertise in Building Regulation: ‘Codespeak’ and Fire Safety Experts – published 26 May 2021

17 Jun 2021
RIBA invites students, practices and schools of architecture to trial The RIBA Compact ethical framework

Thursday 17th of June – The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is encouraging architecture students, schools of architecture and Chartered Practices to trial The RIBA Compact – a framework designed to enhance student experience in the workplace.

The RIBA Compact sets out a series of commitments for Chartered Practices, architecture students, schools of architecture and the RIBA, including a requirement for clear contracts of employment for students, with no unpaid overtime and effective support in achieving PEDR requirements.
Feedback from this pilot phase will help refine The RIBA Compact ready for its proposed roll-out from September 2021, when obligations for schools of architecture will form part of the new RIBA validation procedures.

The framework may potentially become a mandatory requirement of the RIBA Chartered Practice criteria from January 2022, subject to further consultation and formal approval.

RIBA President Alan Jones said:
“The launch of The RIBA Compact is an important further step in our commitment to good employment practice and our help to manage expectations and commitments of employers, employees and our validated schools of architecture. We recognise the pressing need to support our members, practices and their employees in realising sustainable businesses, positive mental health and wellbeing, to help remove barriers to progression and provide equal opportunities for all those aiming to enter the profession. I encourage everyone eligible to take part in the pilot and help shape a framework that will help deliver the results we all need.”

RIBA Council Student Representative Maryam Al-Irhayim added:

“Architecture students and young professionals have the right to be treated fairly and safely in the workplace, and The RIBA Compact will help ensure they are supported in their journey to becoming qualified architects. I’m excited to see The Compact come to fruition and as an elected representative for students, I urge student members to help trial this framework. I guarantee you won’t regret it.”

Architecture students/graduates, Chartered Practices and schools of architecture can sign up for the trial before 12 July 2021. To find out more visit: www.architecture.com/education-cpd-and-careers/the-compact

16 Jun 2021
Committee on Climate Change warns UK homes at risk of overheating and flooding – RIBA responds

Wednesday 16th June 2021 – The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has responded to the Committee on Climate Change’s latest assessment indicating that the UK is struggling to keep pace with climate change impacts. The report highlights the urgent need to mitigate risks to human health, wellbeing and productivity from increased exposure to heat in homes and other buildings.

RIBA President, Alan Jones, said:

“This is a damning assessment of the UK’s climate action progress. Architects have key skills and experience needed to mitigate some of the disastrous effects of climate change – and we are committed to supporting them through initiatives including the 2030 Climate Challenge.

But the Government must also step up and set adequate regulatory standards. The proposed means to address overheating within the Future Buildings Standard remains far too basic; the Heat and Buildings Strategy is long overdue; and we still lack a clear plan to retrofit existing homes – not only to reach net zero, but to improve the quality of life for those who live there.

I hope this assessment prompts the Government to go further and faster, and recognise the importance of architects and good design.”

10 Jun 2021
Record high for private housing sectorRIBA Future Trends May 2021

Thursday 10 June 2021 – In May 2021 the overall RIBA Future Trends Workload Index increased by 6 points to a balance figure of +30. This indicates a level of optimism about future workloads among architects not seen since 2016. 40% of practices expect workloads to grow in the coming three months, half (50%) expect them to remain the same, and 10% expect it to decrease. These results indicate that recovery continues.

May’s standout trend was in the private housing sector, which at +42, is the highest Workload Index for this sector since the Future Trends survey began (2009). Almost half (48%) of practices expect workloads to grow in this sector.

The commercial and public sectors are also increasingly positive with the commercial balance figure up 2 points to +9 and the public sector gathering a little momentum, with a rise of 2 points to +5. The community sector remains in negative territory, posting a balance figure of -3, down from -2 the previous month.

In terms of practice size, confidence among small practices (1 – 10 staff) rose with a future workload balance figure of +27, an increase of 7 points. Confidence among large and medium sized practices (11 – 50 and 51+ staff) fell back somewhat, with a balance of +45. Nevertheless, a majority (55%) anticipate increasing workloads.

All regions anticipate increasing workloads over the next three months, with some reporting extremely strong levels of optimism. Practices in Wales & the West posted May’s highest balance figure, an extremely positive +55, with no practices expecting workloads to decrease.

Optimism in London continues to grow, with a balance figure of +22, up from +12 in April.  The South of England’s balance figure also improved further, with a balance figure of +25, up from +19 the previous month.

Anticipation of future workloads has dropped back in the Midlands & East Anglia, though it remains firmly positive; here the balance figure in May is +14, compared to +26 in April.  Similarly, the North of England has returned a strong but somewhat reduced workload balance figure; +37 in May, compared to +44 in April.

In terms of staffing:

  • The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index kept its steady climb and increased by 3 points to +14
  • 19% (up by 4%) of practices expect to employ more permanent staff over the coming three months, whilst 5% expect to employ fewer.  Three-quarters (76%) expect staffing levels to stay the same over the coming 3 months.
  • Personal underemployment fell again and now stands at a to 16%, a level last seen in 2019.

RIBA Head of Economic Research and Analysis, Adrian Malleson, said:

“This month report indicates a strong and sustained recovery of the architect’s market from the lows of 2020. The Private Housing sector posted a record high for future work, and work from the Commercial and Public sectors are also set to continue to grow.  Practices in all regions are positive about the coming months, with notable hotspots in Wales & the West and the North.

The RIBA Future Trends survey indicates that the architects profession has so far successfully navigated the unprecedented Covid-19 storm and is in a better position now than many may have anticipated a year ago.

The additional comments received from architects aligns with the positive figures. Practices have reported strong levels of enquires, with many of these converting into appointments. Now is a generally busy period, with some new jobs queued until later in the year.

Whilst there are high levels of private housing work – from one-off extensions through to larger-scale work for developers – there are also reports of workloads growing in non-residential work.

28 May 2021
“A fraction of the investment required” – RIBA response to Government cash boost to cut carbon emissions

Friday 28th of May 2021 – The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has responded to the Business and Energy Secretary’s announcements: £44million funding package and the Together for our Plan ‘Business Climate Leaders’ campaign.

RIBA CEO, Alan Vallance said:

“The funding announced today to improve the energy efficiency of our building stock is a step in the right direction. However, it’s just a fraction of the investment required to address the scale of the issue at hand.

The Government must urgently set out a comprehensive framework and publish its long-overdue Heat and Buildings Strategy. As outlined in our Greener Homes’ campaign, it must include a long-term policy and investment programme for upgrading the energy efficiency of our housing stock, and a National Retrofit Strategy, which incentivises homeowners to make the necessary changes.

I welcome the Government’s recognition of the important role small businesses will play in reaching net-zero. RIBA Chartered Practices, many of whom fit into this category, are already taking steps to reduce their carbon impact by signing-up to the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge – which calls on architects to meet net-zero (or better) whole life carbon for new and retrofitted buildings by 2030.

We will continue to support our sector to drive forward change. We must all play our part in tackling the climate emergency.”

24 May 2021
RIBA and Google Arts & Culture launch new digital partnership
RIBA and Google Arts & Culture partnership

RIBA calls on Government to go further and faster to decarbonise housing stock

Friday 14th of May 2021 – The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has today commented on the Government’s response to the Environmental Audit Committee’s  Fourth Report – Energy Efficiency of Existing Homes.

RIBA President, Alan Jones said:

“The Government’s response to the EAC’s report does not demonstrate the urgency that is vital if we are to improve the energy efficiency of our existing housing stock and reach net-zero by 2050.

As our ‘Greener Homes’ campaign outlines, to drive real change the Government must implement a National Retrofit Strategy – a long-term policy and investment programme for upgrading the energy efficiency of our housing stock. We need substantial and sustained government funding, green finance options and incentives for homeowners.

Retrofitting and decarbonising our existing housing stock must be at the heart of the Government’s response to the climate emergency. We now eagerly await the publication of the long-overdue Heat and Buildings Strategy, and hope it provides the framework so urgently required.”

12 May 2021
Architects’ confidence remains strong – RIBA Future Trends April 2021

Thursday 11th of May 2021 – In April 2021 the overall RIBA Future Trends Workload Index fell by 5 points to a balance figure of +24, after an increase in March. Whilst the previous month’s optimism has moderated, expectations about future workload remain strongly positive.

Thirty-four per cent of practices expect workloads to grow in the coming three months, whilst most (56%) expect them to remain the same. The percentage expecting workloads to decrease has fallen to 10%. Practices of all sizes are expecting workloads to increase, with larger practices remaining the most optimistic.

All regions reported an expectation of increasing workloads over the next three months. London practices maintained a positive outlook with a balance figure of +12. The South of England remained confident with a balance figure of +19, although this is a drop of 13 points from last month’s high of +32. The Midlands & East Anglia went further into positive territory, up six points from last month, with a balance figure in April of +26. Wales & the West continued to report a firmly positive outlook, posting a balance figure of +31. The North of England remained the most optimistic region, with a balance figure of +44.

Among the work sectors, private housing remains by far the strongest, posting a balance figures of +35 in April (compared with +36 in March). All sectors are broadly steady in their outlook, although the community sector has dipped to a negative balance figure.

Like the previous month, the commercial sector posted a balance score of +7, maintaining a positive view of the workload to come. However, the accelerated trend to online shopping may continue to suppress the retail sub-sector, and future requirements for office space remain unclear.

Optimism about the public sector grew slightly this month, to +2, up from zero last month. The community sector dipped back into negative territory this month, posting a balance figure -2, down from zero last month.

In terms of staffing:

• The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index increased by 4 points to +11 this month.
• 5% of practices expect to employ fewer permanent staff in the coming three months, while 15% expect to employ more. A clear majority (80%) of practices expect staffing levels to be constant over the coming three months.
• Medium and large-sized practices (11+ staff) continue to be most likely to recruit permanent staff in the coming three months, with both groups posting strongly positive figures of +43. Over 40% anticipate some increase in permanent staffing levels over the next three months.
• With a balance figure of +6, small practices (1 – 10 staff) also expect staffing levels to grow, although fewer smaller practices anticipate recruitment.
• The Temporary Staffing Index returned a balance figure of +5 in April
• For the first time since 2019, London has posted a positive permanent staff balance figure. Up from zero in March, April’s figure is +9, with 13% of practices anticipating recruitment.
• The South of England (+6, up by two points) and the Midlands & East Anglia (+8, up by 6 points) are moderately optimistic about future staffing levels.
• The North of England (+15, up two points) and Wales & The West (+13, down 5 points from March) remain comparative employment hot-spots. In Wales & The West, more than a fifth (22%) of practices expect permanent staff numbers to increase.
• Personal underemployment fell to 18% (by 2 points) in April. Overall, since the onset of the pandemic, redundancies are at 3% of staff. Seven per cent of staff remain on furlough. Staffing levels are at 99% of a year ago.
• The savage reduction in staffing levels that many feared at the start of the pandemic has not materialised.

RIBA Head of Economic Research and Analysis, Adrian Malleson, said:
“Whilst the overall Workload Index has fallen slightly and confidence has moderated in some areas, April’s Future Trends marks a consolidation of March’s surge in practice optimism. Practices are increasingly confident about longer-term profitability, with 16% expecting profits to rise over the next year and 39% expecting them to be steady.

Challenges remain for a significant number of practices, however, with 4% suggesting they are unlikely to remain viable over the next 12 months, and a third expect profitability to fall (although both these numbers continue to come down).

The commentary received in April describes a growing market for architects’ services – high levels of work and enquiries, with staff increasingly being brought off furlough to meet demand.

Work in sectors such as education is increasing but the fastest growth is in the residential sector, with projects such as energy retrofits, extensions and refurbishments needed to support home working. There are regional hot spots as people relocate, often from London. However, whilst there is more work, in many cases it is lower value than pre-pandemic. Practices have also reported that a slow pace of planning administration continues to put a brake on some projects.”

11 May 2021

RIBA responds to the Queen’s Speech

Tuesday 11th of May 2021 – The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has responded to the 2021 Queen’s Speech.

RIBA President, Alan Jones, said:

“Poorly resourced and mismanaged planning imposes permanent damage on our communities, environment and economy; I therefore welcome today’s promise to progress reforms to the planning system. But reforms cannot be used as an impulsive means to boost housing numbers at the expense of quality.

We urgently need well-designed, safe and sustainable homes and spaces that support and strengthen communities. This relies on utilising the expertise of architects from the outset, and taking tougher action against developers who fail to raise their game.

In addition to the Planning Reform Bill, I welcome the progression of the long-awaited Building Safety Bill and introduction of the Professional Qualifications Bill, which paves the way for post-Brexit agreements that are critical to the strength and success of the UK architects’ profession. We will continue to engage with the Government on these critical issues on behalf of architects and the society we serve.”

29 Apr 2021

RIBA pilots Health and Life Safety test

Thursday 29 April 2021 – Following the publication of proposed mandatory competence requirements, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has today launched a pilot test to assess understanding of Health and Life Safety.

As outlined within The Way Ahead, Health and Life Safety is the first area in which UK Chartered Members would be required to demonstrate their competence, from 2023. Followed by Climate Literacy and Ethical Practice.

Hosted online at RIBA Academy, the test asks a set of multiple-choice questions within seven areas of assessment, to correspond with the RIBA Health and Safety guide:

  1. Preparing to visit site
  2. Undertaking site visits
  3. Site hazards
  4. Design risk management
  5. Statute, Guidance and Codes of Conduct
  6. CDM Regulations
  7. Principles of Fire Safety Design

The RIBA currently seeks feedback on these assessment areas alongside those for other proposed mandatory competences. RIBA Members are encouraged to complete the survey by 17 June 2021.

RIBA President, Alan Jones, said:

“We must ensure our members have the knowledge, skills and experience needed to tackle the UK’s evolving building safety crisis.

The tragedy at Grenfell Tower, subsequent Hackitt Review, and more recent fire safety catastrophes have not only highlighted the urgent need to reform regulations, but to raise standards of professional competence across the construction industry.

I urge members to take this pilot test and offer feedback on the proposed areas of assessment to ensure we create a robust system that works for our profession and the society we serve.”

29 Apr 2021

RIBA signs Halo Code to protect against racial discrimination

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has signed the Halo Code – the UK’s first Black hair code – to protect the rights of staff who come to work with natural hair and protective hairstyles associated with their racial, ethnic, and cultural identities.

The Halo Code was developed by the Halo Collective and brings together organisations and schools who have made a commitment to work towards creating a future without hair discrimination.

Signing the Halo Code and embedding it into policies, is part of the RIBA’s work to make its workplace and the wider architecture profession more inclusive.

RIBA Director of Inclusion and Diversity, Marsha Ramroop said:
“We are committed to nurturing a culture where our staff feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work. Despite being a protected racial characteristic, hair discrimination remains a source of injustice and by signing the Halo Code, the RIBA is taking a stand for racial equity. I encourage our members and practices to join us in driving out all forms of discrimination, by adopting the Code too.”

15 April 2021

RIBA opens £30K funding scheme for architecture students

The Hidden Seasons of Barbados, Shawn Adams, 2019 Wren Insurance Association Scholarship recipient:
2019 Wren Insurance Association Scholarship

Monday 26th of April 2021 – The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has today (Monday 26 April) opened applications for five RIBA Wren Insurance Association Scholarships, worth a total of £30,000.

The annual scholarships are open to students who are currently enrolled in the first year of their RIBA Part 2 course. Each recipient will receive £6,000 and the opportunity to be mentored throughout the second year of their Part 2 course by an architect from a Wren-insured practice.

The scheme, which was set up in 2013, has supported 40 recipients to date.

RIBA President Alan Jones said:

“Thank you to the Wren Insurance Association for their continued generosity to support architecture students, during a particularly challenging period. Scholarships and bursaries are an important part of our ongoing commitment to support students, and reward and retain talent in the profession, and we look forward to seeing the applications received.”

The deadline to apply is Friday 18 June 2021 and further information is available here.

Previously on e-architect:

15 April 2021
London architects confident again after 14 months – RIBA Future Trends March 2021

Thursday 15 April 2021 – In March the RIBA Future Trends Workload Index rose by 12 points to a balance figure of +29. This is the highest Workload Index balance figure since May 2016. In the last 12 months, the index has risen by an unprecedented 111 points.

All regions are becoming more positive about future work. London is the largest architecture market in the UK and, for the first time since February 2020, practices there are anticipating increasing workloads in the coming months, with a balance figure of +18 an increase of 21 balance points from -3 in February.

Forty per cent of practices expect workloads to grow in the coming three months, whilst just under half (49%) expect them to remain the same. The percentage expecting workloads to decrease has fallen again and now stands at 11% (compared to 84% a year ago). Optimism about future workloads continues to be driven by the private housing sector, although the outlook for all sectors is improved from last month.

Practices of all sizes are expecting workloads to increase, with larger practices the most optimistic. March feels like a significant turning point.
The outlook of Small practices (1 – 10 staff) again rose strongly. In March small practices posted a future workload balance figure of +27 up fourteen points from February’s figure of +13. Confidence among Large and Medium sized practices (11 – 50 and 51+ staff) remains strong, with an overall balance score of +42, up 13 points on last month’s figure of +29.

March sees the South of England grow in confidence, with a balance figure of +32 this month, up from zero last. The Midlands & East Anglia has risen further into positive territory up fourteen points from last month to +20. Wales & the West posted a balance figure of +33 in March, the tenth consecutive month of a positive outlook. The most positive region this month is the North of England, with a balance figure of +47. Here only two per cent of practices expect workloads to fall, and almost a half (49%) expect them to grow.

Among the four different work sectors, private housing remains by far the strongest. However, all sectors are again up on last month, and no sector is negative. The private housing sector rose by a further 7 points to +36, a balance score that is higher than at any point since June 2015. The commercial sector returned to positive territory for the first time since the pandemic onset with a balance score of +7. Both the public sector and community sectors eased out of negative territory this month, but only just with both posting a zero balance figures.

In terms of staffing:
• The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index increased by 3 points to +7 this month.
• 7% of practices expect to employ fewer permanent staff in the coming three months, while 14% expect to employ more. A clear majority (79%) of practices expect staffing levels to be constant over the coming three months.
• Medium and large-sized practices (11+ staff) continue to be most likely to recruit permanent staff in the coming three months, with both groups posting strongly positive figures.
• On balance, small practices (1 – 10 staff) expect staffing levels to grow somewhat, with a balance figure of +6 (up from +1), though 80% of small practices anticipate staffing levels to stay the same.
• The Temporary Staffing Index returned a balance figure of +5 (up from +1 in February).
• London remains least optimistic with a zero balance figure in March (though this is up from -8 in February). Eleven per cent of London practices expect to employ more permanent staff over the coming months with the same proportion expecting to employ fewer.
• The South of England (+4) and the Midlands & East Anglia (+2) are cautiously optimistic about upcoming recruitment.
• In line with workload expectations, the North of England (+13) and Wales & The West (+18) are the areas in which practices are most likely to expect growing numbers of permanent staff.
• Personal underemployment remained at 20% in March, and staffing levels remain at 96% of a year ago.
• Overall, since the onset of the pandemic, redundancies remain at 3% of staff. Seven per cent of staff remain on furlough. Eighteen per cent of staff are working fewer hours.

RIBA Head of Economic Research and Analysis, Adrian Malleson, said:

“With the vaccine programme underway, and workload prospects improving across sectors, regions and practice sizes, March’s Future Trends data shows a profession firmly optimistic about future work.

Personal underemployment has dropped from a high of 42% to 20%. Practices are more confident about their longer-term prospects, with 13% expecting increased profitability over the next year, and 29% expecting it to hold steady. However, the extremely positive rise in confidence does not mean that the challenges practices face have evaporated. Four per cent of practices think they are unlikely to remain viable over the next 12 months. Forty-three per cent, after an already extremely difficult period, expect profitability to decrease over the coming year.

The commentary received in March continues to describe a housing sector performing strongly, particularly smaller-scale domestic work. Some practices report that there is more work available than they can take on.

However, practices also mention that such work may be of comparatively low-value, and subject to intense fee competition. Longer-term, the recovery in private housing needs to be matched by growth in the public, commercial and community sectors.

Nevertheless, March’s data confirms a remarkable restoration of confidence among practices during an unprecedented 12 months.

We continue to be on hand, providing support and resources to our members as they navigate these challenging times.”

1 April 2021
RIBA responds to Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report

Thursday 1 April 2021 – The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has today responded to the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report.

RIBA Chief Executive, Alan Vallance said:

“Systemic racism and discrimination clearly exist in the UK. We must fully acknowledge and understand this, so we can tear down the barriers and drive out injustice.

Some of the biggest built environment challenges of our times – from the climate emergency to substandard housing and fire safety – particularly impact underrepresented racialised groups and these are very high on the agenda for the RIBA and our members.

The RIBA does not absolve itself of responsibility in tackling racism and in recognising our own history. We know that people who face racism are less likely to progress in our industry, and we are working to ensure that architecture is open to all, regardless of background or circumstances. We will continue to listen to underrepresented racialised groups and work to address their concerns within our organisation and sector.

We acknowledge the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report which includes some insights, for example around the term BAME and unconscious bias training. We are already taking steps to tackle these, amongst other measures.

We will take time to review the report in depth, and continue to use our influence, networks and platforms, as we work towards a better, more inclusive, built environment.”

22 Mar 2021

RIBA endorses House of Commons report on energy efficiency of existing homes

Monday 22 March 2021 – The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has responded to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee’s (EAC) report, ‘Energy Efficiency of Existing Homes’.

RIBA President, Alan Jones, said:

“This is a timely and well-reasoned report that outlines clear measures to make our homes more energy efficient.

I particularly endorse recommendations to implement a national retrofit strategy and pilot stamp duty rebates for homeowners that improve the efficiency of their homes within the first year – measures we’ve been calling for through our Greener Homes campaign.

Proposals to reform EPC methodology to focus on the actual performance of buildings are also encouraging, and critical to reaching the Government’s net zero target.

We need urgent action to address our shamefully inefficient housing stock – and this report shows how that can be achieved.”

11 March 2021

RIBA Future Trends in February

Thursday 11 March 2021 – Residential sector propels architects’ confidence – RIBA Future Trends February 2021

In February 2021 the RIBA Future Trends Workload Index increased by 14 points to +17, a level of confidence not seen from architects since early 2020.

Nearly a third (32%) of practices expect workloads to grow in the next three months, up from 28% (in January), whilst just over half (52%) expect them to remain the same. The number of practices expecting workloads to decrease has also fallen from 25% to 16%.

Optimism has been driven by the housing sector, which surged by 20 points this month to a balance figure of +29. Whilst it remains the only sector in positive territory, all other sectors saw a rise. The commercial sector saw the highest, up 16 points to a balance figure of -2; the public sector rose 2 points to -1; and even though the community sector posted the lowest at -6, this marks an improvement on the previous month’s figure of -15.

In February, the outlook of small practices (1 – 10 staff) rose significantly, posting a balance figure of +13, up fifteen points from January’s figure of -2. Confidence among large and medium sized practices (11 – 50 and 51+ staff) also remains strong, with an overall balance score of +29. Among these groups, 35% expect workloads to increase, and just 6% foresee a decrease.

All regions, except London, expect an increase in workloads in the near-term. Having briefly entered positive territory the previous month, London posted a negative figure of -3.

This month’s survey also asked respondents how they felt about the future of the workplace. Overall, results indicate that once a return to the office is possible, there is currently no appetite to resume pre-pandemic work patterns. Only 13% of practices expect to recall everyone to the office; almost a quarter (26%) see the future being a blend of office and home-based work; 20% look to leave the decision to staff; and 41% said they will continue to work as they are now (though how people work now is varied, with some practices already including an element of office-based working, when government restrictions allow, whilst others are fully remote).

In terms of staffing:

  • The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index remained at +4 this month. It has been consistently, though only slightly, positive since October.
  • 6% of practices expect to employ fewer permanent staff in the coming three months, while 11% expect to employ more. A clear majority (83%) of practices expect staffing levels to be constant over the coming three months.
  • Medium and large-sized practices (11+ staff) continue to be most likely to recruit permanent staff in the coming three months, with both groups posting strongly positive figures.
  • On balance, small practices (1 – 10 staff) expect staffing levels to be steady, with a balance figure of +1.
  • The Temporary Staffing Index returned a balance figure of +1, suggesting the market for temporary staff is positive, but only by a small margin.
  • London remains most likely to anticipate decreased numbers of permanent staff in the next three months, with a staffing balance figure of -8; down four points on last month. The South of England also remains cautious about upcoming recruitment, with a balance figure of zero.
  • Future recruitment is more likely outside of London and the South: the Midlands & East Anglia returned a figure of +6, the North of England +10, and Wales & The West at +21.
  • Personal underemployment fell slightly at 20%, down from 22% in January.
  • Staffing levels remain at 96% of what they were twelve months ago. Overall, redundancies stand at 3% of staff; 7% remain on furlough and 16% are working fewer hours.

RIBA Head of Economic Research and Analysis, Adrian Malleson, said:

“As the route out of the pandemic becomes clearer, not least due to the roll-out of the vaccination programme, February’s figures demonstrate a turning point – practices are starting to feel more optimistic about the future.

It’s clear however, that this increased confidence is partly dependent on the residential sector, fuelled by homeowners relocating or adjusting their homes to accommodate remote working, and question marks remain over the sustainability of this trend. Furthermore, practices who are reliant on work outside of this sector are yet to see their workloads increase.

Whilst the data suggests there is not currently a significant appetite to return to pre-pandemic work patterns, we also know that homeworking continues to create productivity challenges, not least because childcare and home-schooling have been impacting the working day. Commentary received from our respondents indicates that this is disproportionately impacting women.

5 + 3 March 2021
RIBA reacts to 2021 Budget

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has published an initial response to the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s 2021 Budget.
RIBA President, Alan Jones, said:

“Whilst the Chancellor’s focus is understandably on mitigating the impact of the pandemic, the measures announced today do little to reassure me of the Government’s commitment to reach net zero or drive a green economic recovery.

Some of today’s announcements – such as the UK Infrastructure Bank and green gilts – could help our economy grow back more sustainably, but that depends entirely on future investment decisions. The money pledged must be used to create green jobs and fund energy efficiency programmes such as a National Retrofit Strategy.

Taken alongside the personal allowance freeze, the corporation tax rise will have a significant impact on RIBA members and hints at wider tax changes to come. It’s therefore vital that the Government looks at how the tax system could also help tackle the climate emergency. By reviewing reforming mechanisms to incentivise sustainability the Government could successfully drive the green economic recovery that is desperately needed.”

12 Feb 2021
Architects’ confidence remains fragile – RIBA Future Trends January 2021

In January 2021 the RIBA Future Trends Workload Indexremained positive (at +3) despite the turbulence of Brexit and a third national lockdown. Whilst 25% of practices expected workloads to decrease in the coming three months, 28% forecasted an increase. Just over half (51%) expected workloads to hold steady.

The South of England was the only region to post a negative workload balance figure this month, a fall of 10 points (to -2), although optimism also decreased sharply in the North of England (falling from +29 in December to 0). London posted a positive workload balance (+1) for the first time since February 2020. Other regions – the Midlands, East Anglia, Wales and the West remain in positive territory.

Among the four work sectors, the private housing sector was the only one to remain positive, at + 9. Having posted positive figures in December, the public and commercial sectors fell back to negative territory in January, posting -4 and -18 respectively, suggesting an expectation of falling workloads. The community sector continues to stall, falling to a balance figure of -15 in January, down from -8 in December.

Large and medium sized practices (11 – 50 and 51+ staff) remain confident; 53% expect workloads to increase, and 13% foresee a decrease (overall balance score of +39). Small practices (1 – 10 staff) however fell back into negative territory in January, posting a workload balance figure of -2, down from +4 in December.

With the UK and EU’s new trading agreement in place, the survey for the first time monitored the impact of Brexit on the attitudes of architects. Overall, the new agreement is perceived to have a negative impact on the profession; 15% more architects expect it to lead to a decrease in workload than an increase. Architects indicated they expect key areas to be detrimentally affected by the new agreement: 41% stated this to be the case regarding availability of skilled on-site staff, 54% regarding recruiting/retaining architects from outside the UK and 63% regarding the availability of building materials.

In terms of staffing:
• The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index rose again in January (+4, from +2 in December).
• In the next three months 83% of practices expect staffing levels to remain the same, 7% expected to employ fewer permanent staff, and 10% expect to employ more.
• Medium and large-sized practices (11+ staff) continue to be those most likely to recruit permanent staff in the coming three months, with both posting strongly positive index figures. Smaller practices are more likely to expect staffing levels to hold steady, having posted a January Staffing Index figure of zero.
• The Temporary Staffing Index returned a balance figure of zero in January, suggesting the market for temporary staff will remain as is.
• London remains the region least likely to anticipate increased staffing levels in the next three months – returning a negative balance figure of –4. The South of England is also cautious – returning a balance figure of -6. Recruitment is more likely in the North of England (+14) and the Midlands & East Anglia (+8).
• Personal underemployment stands at 22%, a slight increase on last month’s figure, but within historical norms, and significantly below the high of 42% in the first lock-down.
• Staffing levels are 96% of a year ago. Overall, redundancies stand at 3% of staff. Seven per cent of staff remain on furlough.

RIBA Head of Economic Research and Analysis, Adrian Malleson, said:

“It’s promising that the profession has overall maintained a positive outlook. However, with a decrease from +10 in December to +3 in January, it’s clear that the ongoing uncertainties presented by both Brexit and the third national lockdown are having an impact on confidence.

Disparities persist across regions, practice sizes and notably sectors. That only the housing sector returned positive figures, clearly indicates the limited commitment of resources to construction, from both businesses and government.

Whilst there are some promising signs, for example London reporting its first positive workload balance for 10 months, this increase is marginal (+1), and must be tempered by the fact that the commercial sector, so important to the profession in this region, remains fragile.

Sustained growth of the profession, particularly in the centres of large cities, will rely on a broad-based recovery that encompasses not only the housing sector, but also the public, commercial and community sectors. This recovery is unlikely to happen whilst we remain in lock-down but can be spurred and accelerated by timely government stimulus and investment.

RIBA News & Events 2021 - St Paul’s Cathedral
photograph © Adrian Welch

6 Feb 2021
RIBA responds to launch of Government’s school rebuilding programme

5th of February 2021 – The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has today (5 February) responded to the Government’s launch of the first phase of the School Rebuilding Programme.

RIBA President Alan Jones said:

“Well-designed schools have the power to shape society – improving the attainment, behaviour, health and wellbeing of every child.

As the government’s ten-year rebuilding programme gets underway, it is crucial to focus on the delivery of good quality design, sustainability and safety.
To ensure the best outcomes for students, teachers and the taxpayer, the government must commit to monitoring the performance of the new buildings once they are in use through Post Occupancy Evaluation – and use these findings to ensure each project is better than the last.

Furthermore, vital safety measures including the installation of sprinklers must also be prioritised in the design of new and maintenance of existing school buildings. Alongside the CIOB, RICS and NFCC, the RIBA is continuing to call for this to be mandated.

This is a critical opportunity to have a transformative impact on the lives of future generations – the government must get it right.”

Background:

In May 2016 the RIBA published the Better Spaces for Learning report – outlining how good design can help ensure that capital funding for schools stretches as far as possible, and supports good outcomes for both teachers and pupils.

In May 2019, the RIBA responded to the Department for Education’s review of Building Bulletin 100 – design for fire safety in schools. The Department for Education asked experts to help review the Building Bulletin 100, which is a design guide for fire safety in schools. Our response highlighted the importance of the inclusion of prescriptive baseline requirements on life safety measures, for example, maximum travel distances, ventilation, protected lobbies and refuges. Read all RIBA responses to government consultations on fire safety.

In October 2020, the RIBA issued a joint statement with CIOB, NFCC and RICS, calling on the government to require the installation of sprinklers in schools, including the retrofitting of sprinklers in existing school buildings when relevant refurbishment takes place.

19 Jan 2021
RIBA publishes findings of Architects Act amendments survey

Monday 25 January 2021 – 8 out of 10 think mandatory competence requirements are important – RIBA publishes findings of Architects Act amendments survey.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has today (Monday 25 January) published the findings of its survey of the architects’ profession on proposed changes to the Architects Act.

The 502 responses have informed the RIBA’s official submission to the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) consultation on proposed changes to the Architects Act, which has also been published today.

From ensuring building safety to tackling the climate emergency, the areas prioritised by respondents reflect the challenges facing our industry and society, and the role architects must have in addressing them.

Findings of the RIBA survey reveal:

  • 85% of respondents acknowledge the importance of mandatory competence requirements in promoting standards and confidence within the profession;
  • 75% believe that an architect’s competency should be monitored at regular intervals throughout their career;
  • 70% think fire safety is the most important mandatory competence topic;
  • 68% want to prioritise health, safety and wellbeing; 67% legal, regulatory and statutory compliance; and 50% sustainable architecture as mandatory competence topics;
  • More than half of respondents (59%) want either planning or building control or both to be regulated functions.

In response to the survey findings, RIBA President, Alan Jones, said:

“This consultation is a defining moment – a real opportunity to ensure all current and future architects in the UK have the education, knowledge, skills and behaviours to make a positive impact on the built environment.

The fact that the majority of the profession wish to retain the regulation of title and expand into regulation of function, demonstrates the vital and holistic role that architects know they must have to effectively deliver their expertise.

We will soon be launching our mandatory Health and Life Safety requirements for RIBA members and will work with the MHCLG and ARB to coordinate practical competency measures for the whole profession to adopt.

We also continue to call for urgent reforms of building safety regulations and procurement systems, and for an appropriately funded education system for future architects. These will help to ensure that the profession can deliver buildings that meet the quality, safety, and sustainability expectations of society.

In light of post-Brexit agreements on professional qualifications, we will support the allocation of new ARB powers to negotiate international agreements that will assist UK architects in designing, delivering, and globally upholding the highest professional standards.”

Read the executive summary of the survey findings

Read the RIBA’s response to the consultation on proposed amendments to the Architects Act

19 Jan 2021
Winners of 2020 RIBA President’s Medal for Research and Research Awards

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced the recipient of the RIBA President’s Medal for Research and the winners of the President’s Awards for Research, which celebrate the best research in the fields of architecture and the built environment.

The winner of the 2020 RIBA President’s Medal for Research is Richard Beckett from the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, for ‘Probiotic Design.’ Through exploring the integral role of bacteria in human health, Richard proposes a design approach that reintroduces beneficial bacteria to create healthy buildings.

2020 RIBA President’s Awards for Research

18 Jan 2021
RIBA comments on proposed ‘Right to Regenerate’ policy

Monday 18th January 2020 – The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has commented on government’s proposed ‘Right to Regenerate’ policy, announced today.

RIBA President, Alan Jones, said:
“While giving a ‘new lease of life’ to unloved buildings might seem like an easy win that could speed up the development of new housing or community spaces, the process of procuring these empty properties – and criteria for acquiring – must be carefully considered.
This policy has the potential to help regenerate local areas, but this must be done with the highest regard to quality, safety and sustainability – it’s essential the government moves forward in the right way.”

14 Jan 2021
RIBA Future Trends – 2020 ended with fragile growth in confidence

Thursday 14th January 2021 – In the latest set of results (December 2020), the RIBA Future Workload Index returned the highest balance score (+10) since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Whilst 20% of practices expected a decreasing workload in the coming three months, 29% expected workloads to increase. Just over half expected workloads to hold steady.

Confidence was beginning to return beyond the Private Housing Sector (+14, up two points from November). Both the Commercial and Public Sectors returned to positive territory for the first time since February 2020 – the Commercial Sector at +1, up from -19 in November and the Public Sector at +2, up from -7. The Community Sector recorded an improvement although remained negative, returning a balance figure of -8 this month, up from -13 in November.

Confidence among large and medium and sized practices also continues to strengthen. Smaller practices have returned to positive territory after a dip in November.

Reports of personal underemployment are lower than they were a year ago. Workloads are reported to have rallied too; during the first lockdown they stood at 67% compared to twelve months ago; December results (taken prior to the third lockdown) were 95%.

London based practices remain negative about future workload with a -6 balance score in December, up slightly from -7 last month.

All other regions are positive about future workload: the Midlands & East Anglia returned to positive territory with +7 in December; the South of England at +8; Wales & the West at +22, up from +15 in November and the North of England was the most positive in December at +29 – the most positive outlook for the region since 2019.

Concerns about future practice viability remain, though have lessened. Overall, 3% of practice expect falling profits to threaten practice viability. 46% expect profits to fall over the next twelve months, 34% expect profits to stay the same, and 9% expect them to grow (8% don’t know).

In terms of staffing:

• With a slight increase on the previous month, the RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index returned a figure of +2 in December.
• 84% of practices overall expect permanent staffing levels to remain consistent (up from 81% in November).
• 7% expect to see a decrease in the number of permanent staff over the next three months (the same figure as November).
• 9% expect permanent staffing levels to increase (up from 8% in November)
• The anticipated demand for temporary staff has stayed the same as in November, with the Temporary Staffing Index falling at -1 in November
• London is the only region to return a negative permanent staffing index figure (-9) – down from -7 in November
• In London, the balance figure for permanent staff is -7 (up from -8 in October)
• The Midlands & East Anglia are anticipating a falling number of permanent staff. In contrast, other regions are positive, notably Wales & the West (+9) and the North of England (+8).
• Personal underemployment is back down to 20%. That’s lower than both last month’s figure and that of December 2019. At both times the figure was then 22%.
• Staffing levels are currently 96% of their level a year ago. Overall, redundancies stand at 2% of staff. 6% of staff now remain on furlough.

RIBA Head of Economic Research and Analysis, Adrian Malleson, said:

“The growing optimism seen in our December results is heartening, with workloads being just 4% lower than they were a year ago and an increase in confidence in the commercial and public sector areas. However, additional commentary stresses the twin uncertainties of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic. Understandably, these make 2021 a highly uncertain year and the construction market may get worse before it gets better

The disparity in confidence between regions continues. In December London results continued to highlight a concerning set of indices: future work predictions, future staffing levels, assessment of future practice viability and personal underemployment, which are all lower than elsewhere.

Some practices report projects being held up by delays in the processing of planning applications but there are also reports of Public Sector workload beginning to increase.

It is a mixed and changing picture but with an overall growth in confidence. Whilst this confidence is likely to falter in the current lockdown, there is hope that it will return, once restrictions are eased.

RIBA comments on new UK-EU relationship

Monday 4th of January 2021 – The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has today commented on the new relationship between the UK and EU.

RIBA CEO, Alan Vallance, said:

“Since our initial response to the post-Brexit trade deal struck on 24 December, the RIBA has taken time to consider the terms negotiated and the implications for our profession.

Since the referendum, the RIBA has strongly called for the mutual recognition of professional qualifications, and it’s therefore disappointing to see this has not been agreed. Going forward, the ARB has an opportunity to negotiate a new recognition route with the EU, and we will be working closely with ARB colleagues and members to help shape such an agreement.

In terms of trading goods, while tariff-free importing and exporting should benefit UK construction long-term, we know that certain processes including the certification and declaration of products have – or will very soon – change, and all businesses will need to adjust to new measures.

As we all familiarise ourselves with this new UK-EU relationship, the RIBA is on hand to support members and practices adapt accordingly.”

Visit www.architecture.com/Brexit.

RIBA News 2020

RIBA News & Events 2020 – recent updates below:

24 Dec 2020

RIBA reacts to news of post-Brexit trade deal

Thursday 24 December 2020 – The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has today responded to the post-Brexit trade deal struck between the UK Government and EU Commission.
RIBA CEO, Alan Vallance, said:

“Today’s news of a post-Brexit trade deal is no doubt a relief for many. But while this deal provides us with some certainty around the future relationship between the UK and EU, hesitation and vagueness around trade in services remains a serious concern for our profession. Architects in both the UK and EU were clear about the need for a continued agreement on recognition of professional qualifications, and it is deeply worrying that this does not seem to be part of the deal as it stands.

It’s also disappointing to see that UK students are no longer eligible for the Erasmus scheme, given the clear benefits for young people. We therefore look forward to understanding more about the new Turing scheme referenced by the Prime Minister.

It’s our hope however that this deal will keep the costs of importing construction materials down and – current border issues aside – at least provide some confidence over trading in goods.

As ever, we will continue to support our members with guidance and lobby the government to invest in the skills and talent that fuels the success of UK architecture worldwide.”
Visit www.architecture.com/Brexit.

17 Dec 2020

RIBA Future Trends – COVID-19 restrictions impact practice confidence and workload

Thursday 17 December 2020 – In November 2020, the RIBA Future Workload Index returned a balance figure of 0, meaning as many practices expect workload to increase as those who expect it to decrease. It’s the lowest figure since June and a fall from last months’ +9.

Confidence about future work strengthened among large and medium-sized practices (to +25), whilst smaller practices have returned negative predictions for the first time since June at -5.

2 Dec 2020

RIBA announces winners of 2020 President’s Medals

RIBA President’s Medals Student Awards 2020

RIBA News 2019

RIBA 2019 business trends report

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RIBA Summer Installation 2019

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Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture building by David Adjaye architect
photo © Darren Bradley

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