Signs of steady demand for architects in RIBA Future Trends survey for May 2017

The Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) monthly Future Trends workload index – a tool used to measure RIBA members’ confidence in the market for architectural services – changed little in May 2017, rising to +23 (up from +22 in April).

London-based practices were again the most cautious about increasing workloads (balance figure +12), compared with practices in North of England (+36), South of England (+37); practices in Northern Ireland were by far the most positive with a balance figure of +50.

Practices of all sizes retained similar levels of confidence. Large practices (51+ staff) were slightly more positive (balance figure +25), with small (1-10 staff) and medium-sized (11-50 staff) practices both recording a balance figure of +23.

The private housing sector and commercial sectors were again expected to be the strongest performing sectors (balance figures of +22 and +7 respectively). The public sector forecast rose slightly but remained in negative territory at –2; the community sector forecast fell to zero, indicating no anticipated change in workloads.

The RIBA Future Trends staffing index fell in May 2017 to +7 (down from +9 in April). Large and medium-sized practices remained similarly upbeat about increasing future staffing levels (both recording balance figures of +13). Small practices were somewhat less confident but still positive (balance figure +6).

RIBA Executive Director Members, Adrian Dobson, said:

“The picture in May was one of broadly stable workloads rather than significant growth. The market for smaller-scale residential projects appears to remain buoyant, but some of our respondents reported a cooling of the larger-scale commercial sector market.”