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"State of the Architectural Profession in Europe in 2012" Publication of the Architects' Council of Europe Sector Study

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Architects' Council of Europe

This is the third biennial survey of architecture in Europe commissioned by the ACE. The data series is establishing itself, and year-by-year shows a consistent response profile from participants. This suggests that the data quality is good and can be viewed with increasing confidence. All large countries now participate, including, for the first time, Spain. The survey now covers 95 per cent of the profession in Europe, substantially up from the 53 per cent in 2008 and 84 per cent in 2010.

The Architects’ Council of Europe (ACE) is the representative organisation for the architectural profession at European level: it aspires to speak with a single voice on its behalf in order to achieve its aims. Its growing membership currently consists of 46 Member Organisations, which are the regulatory and professional representative bodies in all European Union (EU) Member States, Accession Countries, Switzerland and Norway. Through them, the ACE represents the interests of over 549.000 architects from 33 countries in Europe.

The 2012 Sector Study commissioned by the Architects’ Council of Europe shows that the profession is still suffering from the economic downturn. Although rates of decline are falling, architects have had to adapt to this on-going situation.

The third edition of the ACE Sector Study confirms that architects have been severely affected by the European economic downturn. Between 2008 and 2012, construction output fell at a faster rate than GDP and the architectural market has continued to contract at a greater rate than the fall in output. Alongside this market slowdown, the number of architects is growing, resulting in a mis-match between supply and demand: more architects are chasing less work.

This unfavourable climate has negatively impacted the profession’s workload, salaries and profit margins. However, there are signs that the situation is stabilising. The largest falls were recorded between the first two surveys, in 2008 and 2010 – since then, the decline has been smaller. Architects’ earnings have now almost stabilised and architectural practice pre-tax profits have increased for all practice sizes.

To get through this economic downturn, architects have adapted to this “new normal”. The study shows that large practices have made cuts in their staffs and more architects are now working part-time. At the same time, the number of ‘micro’ practices has increased, as newly redundant architects have set up new practices.

However, results vary from one country to another –  and a north-south split is noticeable. Whereas in some northern and central European countries, construction output has started to rise again, in much of the south, the volume of construction continues to fall.

This study also collects statistical data about architects and their practice. The total number of architects in Europe-33 is estimated to be 549,000, 36% of whom are women and 40% are aged under 40. One third of the respondents declared themselves ‘very’ or ‘highly’ regarded by the general public, and more than half ‘very’ or ‘highly’ regarded by their clients.

The 2012 Sector Study commissioned by the Architects’ Council of Europe now covers 95% of the profession in Europe. It updates the 2008 and 2010 studies and is based on more than 27,000 responses received from architects established in 25 ACE member countries. The first section of the study focuses on the profession, the market and practice while the second part features 28 country factsheets.