Earlier this year, Britain voted to leave the EU in a national referendum. Shaun Soanes, NJA’s expert Associate, investigates what this could mean for the UK’s Architecture and Design industries.
The vote to leave the EU has really been one of the most major decisions in British history. Britain strongly voted in favour of leaving, which sent shockwaves around the worldwide economy. It made everyone think “what happens next?”
At Nicholas Jacobs Architects, our questions naturally centre around what the effects of Brexit will be on our industry; Architecture.
It has already been reported that the Brexit decision will have a great impact on the construction industry.
I believe that this could be due to the shocks to the global markets, which have instigated a widespread sense of uncertainty about the future.
At Nicholas Jacob, we have already seen some contractors and sub-contractors up their prices because of the euro market, as many products and materials come from countries in the EU.
Concerns for the architecture and construction industries have also been raised because of our trading ties with EU countries. What will happen to those trade links now that Britain has decided to leave? Can deals be negotiated? Still, the mists remain unclear.
Our country’s architecture has been greatly influenced by these European ties, and the free movement of people, goods and services throughout Europe is so important to our economic, social and environmental wellbeing – as well as industry.
However, RIBA (leading architectural body) have spoken out on their belief that our industry is resilient, our profession is strong and that we have the power to weather this storm of uncertainty.
It is mainly the uncertainty that is causing concern for construction, architecture and property companies across the UK.
It’s important to remember that we are not actually in a ‘post-Brexit’ Britain yet – we haven’t officially left, and the complicated process is set to take years.
So there can be no definite answers as to what is going to happen, be it for better or worse.
But what it does mean is a prolonged period of uncertainty, which is where the questions are being raised about what will happen to our industry.
I believe that it is the economic uncertainty that poses the biggest threat to us right now, above all else. People don’t like not having a road map, and this is what has been the result of the freezing of certain projects and investments in the industry.
Challenges and opportunities
RIBA has highlighted the 5 main challenges facing the architecture industry.
The challenges include: retaining access to research funding; keeping the profession skilled; protecting the free movement of skills and services; sustaining affordable EU product supply; maintaining the strength of the UK’s architectural sector.
Throughout this it’s important to remember that we are in a much stronger position than we were during the 2008 recession and that with a weaker pound, there are opportunities for investors overseas.
What has become clear is the need for a united front. We need to reassure our employees and clients that we will tackle this situation proactively and embrace these obstacles and challenges.
Having a clear sense of direction will help improve business and consumer confidence, and when the parliament resumes during autumn, we have been assured by RIBA that the maximum will be done to ensure that we have an industry voice during negotiations.
For now, we must remain united and continue delivering excellent service to our clients whilst we wait for these all-important Brexit decisions.