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8 NEWS TRENDS Architects optimistic on future workloads


Architects’ predictions of future work continued to buck the trend of Covid gloom in September, however this was largely limited to optimism in the private housing market, and smaller firms outside London.


The RIBA Future Workload Index continued to rise slightly as in preceding months, to +9, with 31 per cent of practices expecting a workload increase over the remaining three months of 2020. Of respondents surveyed, 22 per cent were expecting a decrease in workload, and 47 per cent were expecting workloads to remain the same.


The anticipated growth continues to be driven by optimism about private housing, by smaller practices, and by practices working outside London and the south. For larger practices, and for those across the south, there was greater pessimism about future workloads. 58 per


CULTURAL & FAITH Million-brick ‘prayer landmark’ given green light


Snug Architects’ design for a new “national prayer landmark” has been given the green light for construction on a site near Coleshill, just outside Birmingham.


The colossal structure, named Eternal


Wall of Answered Prayer, will eclipse the Angel of the North to stand 169 ft high. It is expected to attract 300,000 visitors each year, and contribute £9.3m to the Warwickshire economy. Constructed of one million bricks, the structure will be “one of the biggest crowd-created collaborative projects in the world,” according to the architects. It will “digitally link every single brick to a personal story of answered prayer submitted from individuals across the UK.” Using interactive technology and a bespoke app, visitors will be able to use their smart device, holding it against any brick to read the specific answered prayer story behind each one.


cent of practices overall expected profits to fall over the next 12 months (down from 65 per cent in August), and 6 per cent expected that drop to threaten practices’ viability.


In terms of regional variance, the Midlands & East Anglia were positive about their future workload for the first time in six months, with an increase to +10 in September, up from -9 in August. Wales & the West was the most optimistic area; returning a balance figure of +40 in September, up 10 points from August. The north of England also remained positive about workload (at +16), though down six points from August.


Confidence was lower in London and the south – the latter slipped back into negative territory in September, posting a balance figure of -2. London has not posted a positive balance figure since February, said RIBA – in September the


balance figure was -12, down three points from the previous month. Of London practices, 12 per cent also reported concerns about their long-term viability, a slight fall from last month’s figure of 14 per cent.


Small practices (1 - 10 staff) remained the most optimistic, with a workload figure of +10, up two points from August, while large and medium-sized practices (11 – 50 and 51+ staff) slipped back further in confidence, to -9 in September, compared to zero in August, and +13 in July. When it came to architects’ views on individual sectors, private housing continued to be the only one where growth was anticipated, returning a balance figure of +17, the same as the previous two months. The commercial sector rose five points to -15, the public sector rose by a point to -5 and the community sector fell five points to -11.


After North Warwickshire Borough Council granted planning permission, central government ratified the decision, giving the project’s CEO Richard Gamble, architect Paul Bulkeley, and the


wider team the go-ahead to start construction.


Construction is expected to begin in spring 2021 with completion in autumn slated for 2022.


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ADF NOVEMBER 2020


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