Brexit: 5 challenges and opportunities for architects

July 29, 2016 / Isla MacFarlane
Brexit: 5 challenges and opportunities for architects

The UK’s economic architecture will need to be completely redesigned in the wake of Brexit, forcing industries to re-sketch their plans in light of the new challenges and opportunities that the Brexit vote has created.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has outlined five major challenges and opportunities for architects as Britain is rebuilt.


  1. Upholding the strength of the UK’s world-class architectural sector – Government must prioritise the promotion of open markets at home and abroad, and ensure that it is easier to access finance for business – but in particular SMEs.
  1. Maintaining a skilled and innovative profession – Government must ensure that freedom of movement for architects and the wider construction and creative sectors is maintained.
  1. Retaining the free movement of skills/services and mutual recognition of professional qualifications – The UK should seek mutual recognition arrangements for architects in other large markets. The transferability of UK services within the EU, and the recognition of EU architectural qualifications within the UK must be maintained.
  1. Sustaining affordable EU product supply and ability to specify product standards – The UK must continue to be party to the European Committee for Standardisation’s (CEN) and European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation (CENELEC) discussions on the specific needs of the EU in relation to a given standard, and on mandates and decisions about harmonised standards. To promote business within the UK and the export market, common product standards must prevail.
  1. Retaining access to research funding – Now more than ever, ensuring affordable access to high quality professional education will be crucial to the UK economy’s success in light of a widening of the skills gaps in the construction and design industry.


  1. Forging new commercial and research partnerships through new trade agreements – The UK Government should seek to forge new trade agreements which include trade in services agreements, especially with the UK’s top non-EU trading partners, and in areas where UK tradesmen can add most value e.g. Asian countries experiencing rapid urban growth and high levels of infrastructure investment.
  1. Strengthening the UK economy – The Government should set a target for infrastructure spending that ensures the UK’s road, rail, air and telecoms networks are world class.
  1. Gaining a competitive advantage in EU and overseas markets – The government should negotiate transferability of educational qualifications with key partner countries.
  1. Improving SME access to public sector projects by reforming UK procurement policy – Government should do more to ensure that procurement policies are designed with a focus on quality and overall value.
  1. Using VAT flexibility to boost construction and bring down costs of meeting standards – The government should explore changes to the UK’s VAT regime to promote sustainability in the renovation and refurbishment of buildings.
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