Dezeen Magazine

Brexit crisis leads to job losses and project uncertainty for UK architects

Brexit crisis: British architecture firms Make and Sheppard Robson are laying off staff, as Brexit starts to impact on the construction industry.

Both offices revealed they have made job losses since the result of the EU referendum was announced, in response to project uncertainty. BDP – one of the UK's largest firms – has also frozen recruitment.

Ken Shuttleworth, founder of London-based Make, described the decision to lose 10 staff as a response to "serious economic volatility". The news comes as the future of the firm's £400-million Gotham City project is called into question.

"We are truly saddened to have been forced to let go 10 people in our London studio due to the economic uncertainty surrounding the European Referendum," he said.

"It is never an easy decision to have to make, but was unavoidable in the wake of serious economic volatility. The industry is reeling from Brexit and we hope that stability will return to the markets as soon as possible."

Sheppard Robson – which employs approximately 350 people in London and Manchester – said that several of its projects have stalled, forcing the firm to shed "a very small number of staff".

"A few of our clients appeared to pause for breath in the run-up to the Brexit vote," said a spokesman for the firm. "As a result the practice released a very small number of staff equating to less than two per cent."

BDP has curbed plans to expand its London office. The major UK firm, which has over 750 employees, described the move as a "precautionary measure".

"Due to political and economic uncertainty caused by Brexit, we have decided to temporarily freeze all our London recruitment as a precautionary measure and we will not be looking to recruit additional staff at this time," it said.

Other UK architects said they had not yet been affected by the vote to leave the EU, but feared for the future.

"More than a quarter of our staff come from the EU and the thought of losing that easy access to such a rich seam of talent is a consequence of the vote that will take a long time to adjust to," said Graham Morrison and Bob Allies, founders of London-based Allies and Morrison.

Mark Middleton, managing partner for Grimshaw's London office, said the firm had prepared for the worst, although it had so far not experienced any impact from the referendum vote.

"While we anticipate some changes or delays to projects and have contingencies in place, so far we have not experienced any changes to our current commissions as a direct result of Brexit," he said.

"As a global practice we are working in diverse sectors and markets, and are confident we will continue our momentum through the tides of political and economic change."

AHMM co-founder Simon Allford echoed the sentiment. "No jobs lost yet, no redundancies," he told Dezeen.

"Clearly these are interesting times and we carry on whilst London and the UK recalibrate. We will respond as and when. And employment law suggests any post Brexit redundancy procedures would take months to initiate."

Early reports suggest a bleak short-term outlook for the UK construction industry.

The nation's biggest property developers and builders suffered their worst performance in seven years last month, according to The Guardian. Shares in British LandPersimmon, Taylor Wimpey, Barratt Developments and Berkeley Group Holdings all dropped by more than six per cent.

The UK voted 51.9 per cent in favour of a British exit from the European Union and 48.9 per cent to remain at a referendum on Thursday 23 June 2016.

Leading UK architects and designers voted overwhelmingly to remain, according to a straw poll conducted by Dezeen.

Following the result, many took to the streets for a protest march that included tens of thousands of people.