Architects express shock as UK votes to leave the European Union

by Kim Megson | 24 Jun 2016

Architects from across the UK have reacted with shock after waking up to the news that the country will leave the European Union (EU) following a referendum on its membership.

Over 72 per cent of the electorate cast their votes yesterday (23 June) and the final result showed 51.9 per cent to in favour of Brexit.

While the Leave campaign have begun wild celebrations, British Prime Minister David Cameron, a key supporter of remaining in the EU, has announced his resignation and the London stock market has plunged more than 8 per cent, with the value of the Pound dropping to its lowest level since 1985.

In the days running up to the vote, architects including David Adjaye, Rem Koolhaas and David Chipperfield had rallied for the remain campaign. The latter likened a vote for leave as “closing ourselves off from our friends and neighbours at a time of increasing global uncertainty.”

This morning, professionals from across the architecture and design industries have been taking to social media to communicate their surprise and disappointment.

In a statement, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners said: “We need to know what will happen with those relationships (contractual, personal and professional) that will have to be forged anew as a consequence of this vote. This result is not only significant for our practice but especially for the important proportion of our staff for whom this is not only a signal of a new, less open Britain but one that may lead to real and practical changes in their lives.”

In comments reported by the Architects Journal, Ian Ritchie of Ian Ritchie Architects said: ‘I fear the impact will lead to not only a dis-United Kingdom, but also profoundly shake Europe as a whole. It is a tragedy in the making.”

Lucy Tilley, head of UK and global projects at Adjaye Associate said: “We are truly disappointed with the outcome of the referendum. As an increasingly international business, which benefits from a global pool of talent (and in particular from within the EU), we were hoping to remain.

“That said, we trust that Britain’s relationship with its neighbouring EU countries will continue to be strong and that we can pave the way for a mutually beneficial association that enables us to pursue work across Europe and employ a diverse and multi-national team of architects.”

Other architects also sought to express a degree of cautious optimism. AL_A founder Amanda Levete proclaimed herself “extremely disappointed” but accepted the decision of voters and said “the debate has engaged the nation, especially younger people, and it can only be a positive to see people talking passionately about the future.”

Angela Brady from Brady Mallalieu Architects tweeted that “We have to be positive and think fast for Plan B.”

’That said,

Responding to the seismic news, the chair of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Jane Duncan, also released a statement pledging that the body will “continue to ensure that our profession has a bright future, whatever the operating environment.” RIBA has been criticised by some in the industry for not making the position of its members on the referendum clear ahead of the vote.

Here are some of the statements released so far today:

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

"Where do we go from here?

"We now face a difficult period of great uncertainty. All those questions left hanging by those leading the drive towards leaving the EU will now have to be answered. This will take time (years) and in the interim requires great adaptability and resilience from us all.

"Most importantly we need to know what will happen with those relationships (contractual, personal and professional) that will have to be forged anew as a consequence of this vote.

"This result is not only significant for our practice but especially for the important proportion of our staff for whom this is not only a signal of a new, less open Britain but one that may lead to real and practical changes in their lives.

"In the aftermath of a divisive campaign, we will need to heal the wounds not just within a dis-United Kingdom but with our neighbours across Europe.

"Going forward, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners will continue to be an inclusive and internationally-minded practice steeped in the values of a broad European culture."

Amanda Levete, AL_A founder

"Of course I’m extremely disappointed, but I have to respect the majority decision. The debate has engaged the nation, especially younger people, and it can only be a positive to see people talking passionately about the future.

“However, our politicians need to get better at articulating what we have in common rather than what divides us. We will continue to work both in Europe and around the world – and continue to express our commonality of ideals – democracy, openness, tolerance, and creativity.”

Ian Ritchie of Ian Ritchie Architects

“I have a feeling of utter disgust with the parochial narrow-minded and bigoted little Britons, who, for lack of cultural and historical awareness, believe that there exists a nostalgic past that can flourish in today’s global environment. It is palpable nonsense and the repercussions on the freedom and evolving culture of our youth will be felt very deeply.

“I have developed my values and ethics, and design skills, from the understanding that interdependence is far more productive than independence. Europeans are as central to my professional and social life as are the Scots, Welsh, English and Irish. I fear the impact will lead to not only a dis-United Kingdom, but also profoundly shake Europe as a whole. It is a tragedy in the making.”

RIBA president Jane Duncan

“The RIBA is a global organisation that supports its members, validates schools of architecture and champions the importance of a quality built environment around the world. UK architecture talent is incredibly resilient and we will continue to ensure that our profession has a bright future, whatever the operating environment.

“Clearly there is uncertainty about the timescales and impact on a range of issues important to our industry, including free movement in the EU for architects as well as students, trading and material sourcing, inward investment relationships, EU procurement rules and the effect on the construction sector if restrictions are placed on EU migration.

“In common with other UK businesses and organisations, the RIBA is assessing the short and longer term effect of the withdrawal on our members and the Institute and we will provide further guidance in due course.

“Most importantly, we will work with colleagues in industry and government to ensure that architects have a strong voice in the coming weeks, months and years.”

Architecture  Brexit  UK  European Union  Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners  RIBA  Ian Ritchie 
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Architects from across the UK have reacted with shock after waking up to the news that the country will leave the European Union (EU) following a referendum on its membership. Over 72 per cent of the electorate cast their votes yesterday (23 June) and the final result showed 51.9 per cent to in favour of Brexit. While the Leave campaign have begun wild celebrations, British Prime Minister David Cameron, a
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The UK is facing a seismic political and cultural shift after 51.9 per cent of the electorate voted to leave the EU / Liam McBurney/PA Wire/Press Association Images
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