Where have all the architects gone? (02.03.09)
Architects are joining the dole queue at a faster rate than all other occupations, figures for the last quarter of 2008 show.Data from the Office for National Statistics reveals a 544% increase in architects claiming jobseeker’s allowance for the first time in the last quarter of 2008, compared to the same period the year before. The AJ's State of the Profession survey has revealedthat more than 65 per cent of practices have seen workloads drop and half have laid-off staff. At least 13 practices admitted to shedding over 50 employees.
Architects are committed, vocational creatures generally unwilling to abandon their profession in hard times. We are already seeing new formal practices emerging from groups leaving larger firms, as well as less obvious informal groupings. For building product suppliers, databases of architectural contacts will be in disarray and will need rebuilding. In the short term, they should give thought to maintaining a presence in the trade press to attract enquiries from these new practices to rebuild databases.
Planning and Building Regulations Confusion (14.04.09)
Until fairly recently, there was a clear demarcation between the activities of local authority planning and Building Control departments – the former dealing with land use and visualissues, the latter technical matters. This demarcation is reflected in the backgrounds and training of the local authority officers involved.
But, increasingly, the government has been using the planning system to manage technical issues. For example, it was decided not to address the effects of external noise on housing as part of Building Regulations Part E but leave this up to the planners. Another new responsibility of planners is to assess whether paving to front gardens is permeable - a subject covered by Building Regulations Part H. Probably the biggest new responsibility for planners is to assess whether developments meet key sustainability
policies, a highly complex technical area.
As a result, planners are now a key target audience for educational material on these technical issues from trade associations and product manufacturers. But they will only take notice of material that comes across as being objective and expert.