Business fluctuates for Europe’s architects

By Sarah Ann McCay14 May 2014

Mixed fortunes continue to affect architects across Europe, with those working in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK most likely to see order book growth this year, according to the Q1 2014 European Architectural Barometer.

Positive market sentiment is also being seen in Poland and Spain, while France and Italy continue to see decline according to data compiled from market research conducted quarterly among 1,600 architects by Arch-Vision.

German architects have reported steady positive development since the third quarter of 2010, and the fourth quarter of 2013 was no different, with positive order book and turnover development.

According to the Arch-Vision survey, 33% of architects saw an increase in order book, while only 2% of the architectural practices expected to see an empty order book in the upcoming 12 months.

Arch-Vision expects a 2% increase in Germany throughout 2014.

Architects in the Netherlands reported a second consecutive quarter of order book and turnover growth. Nearly half (45%) of Dutch architects surveyed saw order book increases in the fourth quarter of 2013.

In Belgium, architects enjoyed a full year of positive development with the fourth quarter of 2013 continuing the trend for order book growth. Nearly a third (29%) of architects reported a positive scenario in terms of order book growth. However, this was balanced by a similar figure (24%) stating that their order books had decreased. A modest growth of 2% is predicted in the Belgian market for 2014.

The UK market enjoyed a slow increase in the number of building permits for non-residential, but they are still at a lower level than 2012. The building permits for residential show more positive signs. Reflecting this, 38% of UK architects reported a strong order book for the first quarter of 2014. However, 37% of architects expect an empty order book in the next 12 months. Arch-Vision therefore predicts a slight growth of the market in 2014 (+2%), which will continue in 2015 and 2016.

The market in Poland seems to have stabilised as architects in the country reported increases in order books at the end of 2014. This is also the case for residential building permits, which show a negative trend for a second year in a row, but according to Arch-Vision are now starting to stabilise. Arch-Vision expects that the Polish construction sector will fluctuate between €29 billion and €30 billion between 2014 and 2016.

Spain saw its market pull up with results even slightly positive, with 32% of architects reporting an increasing order book. A positive market sentiment seems to be prevailing. In the first quarter of 2013, 49% of them expected empty order books in the next 12 months – currently this stands at 29%.

The slight improvements seen in France in mid-2013 have tailed off, as 43% of French architects reported a decreasing order book for the fourth quarter of 2013. Building permits also showed a negative trend for the whole of 2013, and are still at one of the lowest levels since 2010. Arch-Vision predicts that the French construction market will decrease in 2014 (-2%), but will recover from 2015 onwards – 0% in 2015 and 1% in 2016.

Italy saw its fall lessen as the number of architects reporting a decline in order book dropped from 78% to 46% at the start of 2014, with 12% seeing their order book increasing. Arch-Vision predicts shrinkage of the market by 9% in 2014, by 4% in 2015 and stabilisation in 2016. This on top of the heavy decline in 2013 of -11%.

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