French architects indicate tough times

By Sandy Guthrie18 February 2013

French architects are reporting decreasing order books, and have been since the second quarter of last year, while architects in Germany and the UK are facing a more positive outlook.

The European Architectural Barometer Report – research carried out quarterly by Arch-Vision among 1,400 architects in seven European countries – found that French architects, in particular, were having a difficult time.

The report also found that apart from Germany, the order book and turnover of architects surveyed remained below the 2008 level.

In the fourth quarter of 2012, the British architectural sentiment continued to show a positive development in the order books of architects. The report said the effect from this was not yet visible in the turnover barometer, but the fact that it remained at the same level for a third quarter was positive.

It said the UK construction market was heading for a slow improvement. The number of architects experiencing an increase in their order book had grown from 26% to 36%, it said. And the percentage expecting an empty order book in the next 12 months had dropped to 6% – the lowest score so far, according to the report. It said this indicated that according to British architects, the hardest times were behind them.

Arch-Vision predicted a 1% rise in the market for 2013, a decrease in 2014 of 2%, and stabilisation in 2015.

Both the German order book and turnover development were positive. The growth, however, has slowed down compared to previous quarters, meaning Germany is probably heading for stabilisation, said Arch-Vision.

Only 5% expected an empty order book – a percentage which has remained unchanged over the last three quarters. For 2013 (+3%), 2014 (+1%) and 2015 (+3%), a small growth in the German construction market is expected, it said.

In the fourth quarter of 2012, the French situation continued to deteriorate. The drops in order book and turnover development were said to be about as strong as in the previous quarter. This has resulted in 42% of the architects reporting a decrease in their order book and 37% reporting a decrease in their turnover in comparison with the third quarter.

One in four French architects expected an empty order book (22% in the third quarter) and the order book duration dropped from 9.8 to 9.0 months. Arch-Vision predicted that the French construction market would shrink in 2013 by 3%, and drop in 2014 by a further 1%, and would remain stable in 2015.

The Spanish order book development in the fourth quarter was the most negative of 2012. In total, 57% of architects reported a decrease in their turnover compared to the third quarter.

The percentage of architects experiencing an increase was 13%, while 40% of Spanish architects expected an empty order book in the coming 12 months. A further decline in the Spanish construction market by 8% was to be expected for 2013, said the report. While 2014 will see a 3% decrease, 2015 will bring a 1% increase in the market, it added.

Of all the countries surveyed, Italy experienced the biggest decline in order book and turnover development – 73% reported a decline in their order book, and another 71% a decline in turnover. A decrease of more than 5% was highlighted by about 45% of all architects in the country.

The Italians, like their Spanish colleagues, were pessimistic about the future, with 37% expecting an empty order book, compared to 25% in the third quarter. Arch-Vision predicted the market to shrink by 15% in 2013, by 10% in 2014 and by 8% in 2015.

The Netherlands closed 2012 with all indicators negative. The report said that in the fourth quarter, the order book and turnover development had been very negative compared to previous quarters.

It said the number of Dutch architects expecting an empty order book in the next 12 months (36%) had never been as high since the start of the European Architectural Barometer measurements in the country.

Arch-Vision said this showed once again the concerns and difficult times the professionals were foreseeing. A decline in 2013 (-4%) and 2014 (-1%) was to be expected, it said, adding that by 2015 the market would recover slowly (1%).

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