London Design Festival 2016 – On the 24th of June, Britons woke up finding out with their own surprise that the majority of them (52%) voted for Brexit, a.k.a. UK leaving the European Union. In the past two months, stock exchange roller coaster and political shambles started off a period of uncertainty crammed with statements, regrets and accusations.
The Brexit Rubicone hasn’t been crossed yet and Britain is still part of the European Union. After a big re-shuffle of Prime Ministers and politicians, the government didn’t come up with a strategy… With London Design Festival about to kick off, we recap some of the first Brexit effects.
RELATED STORY: Our report before the Brexit vote showed how architecture and design professionals like David Chipperfield, Tom Dixon, Fosters+Partners and many others opposed UK leaving the European Union.
“Let’s get urgently practical and join forces for an united voice” says John Sorrell, chairman of the Creative Industries Federation and founder of London Design Festival. In an interview with Dezeen, he said: “Freedom of movement of talent, access to markets and funding and IP protection have all been fundamental to the growth and success of our sector. Now, some of these benefits could be lost. So it is crucial that we are intensely practical about identifying what we need the government to be fighting for”.
“At designjunction we were disappointed by the UK’s recent decision to leave the European Union, but wish to reassure all our friends, partners and exhibitors around Europe that we remain open for business and excited about our futures together”. At London Design Festival the international platform will be planting roots in King’s Cross’s creative quarter. “One of the main reasons for our move here was its exceptional accessibility to Europe”.
Another major destination at London Design Festival is the Victoria & Albert Museum that will host on site installations and capsule exhibitions by trend-setting brands, acclaimed designers and emerging talents. Though, the most recent breaking news was V&A Director Martin Roth resignation “over Brexit vote disillusionment”, as The Guardian reports.
In an interview with Deutsche Welle, Roth who is a German citizen said he saw “UK’s referendum as a personal defeat” and had no idea about the Brexit impact on the cultural sector. “On a national level, we will have to get used to living without European funds. That will especially affect research. But I actually feel affected on an ideological level more than on an economic one”.
After a poll on over 200 British practices, The Architects’ Journal published a survey revealing how Brexit is hitting workload. And it resulted that more than half of the profession has had projects put on hold following the EU referendum result. On top of that, the major concerns were about the free movement of talents (52%), opportunities in/trade with Europe (43%) and clients leaving the UK (31%).
First sign of Brexodus is O’Mahony Pike‘s choice to shut its London office. The company is one of Ireland’s biggest housing architects firm: “Brexit was the straw that broke the camel’s back” said Managing director John O’Mahony “We’re not shutting down the company but we decided a full-time presence was too risky”.
According to Dezeen, BDP, one of UK largest firms has frozen recruitments. Also Made, Sheppard Robson and Grimshaw Architects layed staff off. Many major projects risk to be put on-hold like Thomas Heatherwick Garden Bridge sponsored by former mayor and major pro-Brexit sponsor Boris Johnson. In the wake of the EU referendum, AXA Investment Managers-Real Assets, the main investor behind PLP’s 22 Bishopsgate skyscraper, will ask the scheme’s remaining backers whether they want to go ahead with its construction – Write at Bloomberg.
RELATED STORIES: ArchiPanic special report of “London Vertical spree” – features on hold projects like Renzo Piano tower in Paddington, PLP Architecture in the city and Thomas Heatherwick Garden Bridge.
The Royal Institute of British Architects, RIBA, published a survey on the short terms sentiment of Brexit referendum. “Actual workloads are growing at +3% but the results seem to reflect anxiety about Brexit implications”. Indeed, the RIBA future trends workload index saw a significant fall last month – down to -7 compared with +22 in June.
Architects criticised RIBA for not being helpful enough. “UK architecture is a resilient, flexible and innovative profession with a long and proud history” Wrote RIBA president Jane Duncan “I’m confident that architects, along with our partners in the wider creative and construction industries can help deliver strong economic growth for the UK during and after Brexit”.
“As we look outwards to the world, we will continue our work with the UK government to address the challenges and support the opportunities that arise from Brexit, including pressing for continued free movement so vital for architects’ practices in the UK and the EU, and mutual recognition of qualifications”.