Brexit: How will the EU referendum result affect the Architecture industry?

It’s nearly three months since Britain voted to leave the EU in a historic referendum.  Our expert Associate, Shaun Soanes, takes a look into what this may mean for the UK’s Architecture and Design industries.


The vote to leave the EU has certainly been one of the most momentous decisions in recent British history.

Britain strongly voted in favour of leaving the EU, and the result sent shockwaves around the global economy. Of course, the question on everyone’s lips now is ‘what happens next?’

At Nicholas Jacob Architects, our questions naturally centre around what the effects of Brexit will be on the Architecture industry.

The impact

Already, it has been widely reported that the Brexit decision will have an impact on the construction industry.

Firstly, I believe that this is because of the shocks to the global markets, which have instigated a widespread sense of uncertainty about the future.

At Nicholas Jacob, we have seen some contractors and sub-contractors already adjust their prices because of the euro market, as a great many products and materials come from Europe.

Concerns for the construction and architecture industries are also being raised because of our trading ties with Europe. What will happen moving forward now that Britain has chosen to leave and what happens to our trade links? Can a deal be negotiated? The mists still remain unclear.

Additionally, our countries architecture has been greatly enriched by these ties to Europe, and the free movement of people, goods and services throughout Europe is hugely important to our economic, social and environmental wellbeing – and industry.

However, leading architectural body, RIBA, have spoken out on their belief that the architecture industry is resilient, our profession has a strong voice and that we have the power to weather this storm of uncertainty.

Uncertain times

It is, naturally, this widespread uncertainty that is causing concern for construction, architecture and property firms up and down the country.

The fact remains that we are not actually in a ‘post-Brexit’ Britain yet. We haven’t officially left, the date for triggering Article 50 has not yet been set, and the disentangling process is set to take years.

So there can be no definitive answers as to what will happen, be it for better or worse.

What this does mean however, is a prolonged period of uncertainty, and this is where the questions are being raised about what will happen to our industry during this.

I feel it is the economic uncertainty that poses the greatest threat to us at this stage, over and above all else. People don’t like not having a road map, and this is what has seen the freezing of certain projects and investment in industry.

Obstacles and opportunities

Governing body, RIBA, has highlighted the main 5 challenges facing the architecture industry.

These include: protecting the free movement of skills and services; retaining access to research funding; sustaining affordable EU product supply; keeping the profession skilled; and maintaining the strength of the UK’s architectural sector.

What’s important to remember thought is that we are in a far stronger position than we were during the 2008 recession and that with a weaker pound, there are opportunities for overseas investors.

What has become clear however, is the need for a united front. We need to reassure our clients and our employees that we are going to tackle this situation proactively and embrace these changes.

There needs to be a united front from services and providers in the building industry to help stabilise any client uncertainty.

Having a roadmap for Article 50 will help to improve business and consumer confidence and when parliament resumes in the Autumn, we have been assured by RIBA that as much as possible will be done to make sure we have an industry voice during negotiations.

In the meantime, we must remain united and continue to deliver excellent service to our clients while we wait for these all-important Brexit decisions.

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