In order to support this feature, we have identified senior named contacts for over 1,270 of the architectural practices in the UK for our subscribers to download. It has been compiled with a focus on medium and larger practices and, consequently, smaller firms comprising a single practitioner have been omitted. All the practices featured in the latest (June 2020) Architects’ Journal 'Top 100' league table (AJ100) have been included.
The new edition of the database (published June 2021) has seen a considerable number of changes compared to the 2020 version, with many of the entries having been amended or removed to reflect mergers, address changes and cessations, etc. New entries have been introduced, where appropriate, and contact name changes have been checked and updated throughout. In addition to the contact name, the information also includes address, telephone number, website and email address. This latest edition provides the highest number of named email addresses, at over 80%, the balance being made up of generic addresses, such as practice@, info@, etc. If you are logged in, you may now access it, in Excel format, here. Non-subscribers may purchase the database separately for £85 + VAT from our Shop.
Profile of UK Architects
In order to offer services as an architect, it is mandatory for UK practitioners to register with the sector's regulator, the Architects Registration Board (ARB), who, in their latest available Annual Report (released Sept 2019), state that, by the year end 2018, there were 41,170 architects registered, with 37,075 registered in the UK and 4,096 registered overseas. Most architectural practices are small and there is no one firm which has a dominant market share.
In 2019, the Architects Council of Europe (ACE) published its 2018 report, which posited that there were 7,515 architectural practices in the UK: 4,407 of these were sole practitioners and a further 981 had just two staff. At the other end of the scale only 39 practices had more than 50 staff and a further 70 had between 31 and 50 staff.
In June 2020, the annual Architects Journal survey of the top 100 practices (AJ100) revealed that 7,001 (2019 - 6,972) architects were employed in the UK in the top 100 listed firms. Foster + Partners were ranked the largest by the number of qualified architects employed (381), and by total fees paid to UK offices.
At the beginning of 2020, the combined UK architectural workforce of the AJ100 was 12,053. Nearly 29,102 people (not just architects) were employed permanently in the UK by the firms listed, although Atkins and Jacobs accounted for about 45% of these. Fosters and BDP were the largest "pure" architecture practice employers, with 1,172 and 1,106 permanent employees, respectively.
In terms of gender, the ACE report identified that 74% of registered architects were male and 26% female. In terms of age, 23% were under 35, 39% were aged between 36 and 50, 26% were aged between 51 and 65, and 12% were aged 65 or over.
The ACE report also said that 20% were identified as sole practitioners, 19% were identified as partner/director, 14% were described as associates, and 31% were described as salaried employees in private practice. (Please note: as mentioned above, our downloadable database of 1,270 architectural practices does not include sole practitioner practices.) In terms of number of years qualified, some 41% were qualified for 25+ years and 19% for five years or fewer.
Market Size and Profile
According to the 2018/9 ACE report, the estimated value of the UK’s architectural market was €2.3 billion in 2018 and the breakdown for refurbishment and new build was 59% and 41% respectively. When analysing the type of projects, the report found:
|Individual houses, extensions and loft conversions||49%|
The monthly Future Trends Survey, carried out by the RIBA, provides a useful insight into the prevailing sentiment amongst UK when looking ahead to future workloads. Construct UK provides regular summaries of these and most other construction industry surveys here.
Marketing and Promotion
Throughout this site, we have detailed many of the communications channels open to suppliers targeting the architectural sectors of the UK and Ireland. When marketing, it is worth remembering the architects themselves will generally prioritise aesthetics and, consequently, respond to visually presented information.
Importantly, architects are time poor and, therefore, any contact attempt needs to be perfectly timed. According to construction sales support specialists, Crannull, architects are the second most marketed-to profession in the UK. SpecifiedBy highlighted this issue in their research blog post entitled ‘Struggling to Get Through to Architects & Specifiers?’, recounting results of their own research which revealed that:
- 25% of architects and specifiers say they receive unsolicited calls or emails from product companies on a DAILY basis.
- 40% of architects and specifiers say they receive unsolicited calls or emails from product companies on a WEEKLY basis.
As SpecifiedBy say, “… that’s almost two-thirds of architects and specifiers, getting numerous cold calls and emails from product sales reps, on at least a weekly basis.” Moreover, “If these professionals didn’t have someone fielding calls, or if they didn’t choose to ignore unrecognised numbers and cold emails, they literally wouldn’t have any time to design buildings.”
Furthermore, the SpecifiedBy research also revealed that:
- 38% of architects and specifiers say they want to have done some initial, basic research before speaking to a product rep.
- 30% of architects and specifiers say they want to have gone even further, and want to be seriously considering using a product before speaking to a product rep.
Consequently, most of the time, architects will try and avoid unsolicited calls from suppliers, unless the timing coincides with the point at which they need to specify products. When selecting products, they will, overwhelmingly, prefer to undertake their own research at the appropriate time. Research for the Construction Media Index confirmed that the preferred source of product information and ideas for architects is manufacturer websites and online searches, and that their most trusted sources are CPD seminars, followed by the publications they regularly read, and then exhibitions and conferences.
Therefore, to summarise this point - passive marketing is key to generating awareness and we have expanded on some of the principal communication channels below.
As our calendar of UK construction exhibitions reveals, the industry hosts over 280 different trade shows of all sizes, often visited by architects. Many of these events can be categorised as having a broad focus, attracting a cross section of specifiers, contractors and other professionals, whilst many others target individual sub-sectors of the industry. Within the first category, the leading events which cite architects in their attendance profiles include UK Construction Week, which received 2,427 visitors from architectural & design firms in 2019. Elsewhere, 41% of the 1,998 visitors to the Architect at Work 2019 event were architects, whilst the 100% Design exhibition claims “.... the largest gathering of Architects and Designers in the UK”. After the 2019 event, the organisers said it received 25,098 visitors, of whom 88% were trade and 80% of these were Architects and Designers (note: 100% Design becomes Design London for the Sept 2020 event). Futurebuild 2019 recorded 27,283 visitors and their visitor profile shows 23% of these were architects.
Key regionally focused events also cite architects as important attendee groups, and include London Build*, South East Construction Expo*, and Regen* in Liverpool. Sector-specific events attracting architects include the Surface Design Show, Healthcare Estates, Retail Design Expo, etc. In order to assist manufacturers and suppliers in researching the most appropriate trade shows to support their marketing and promotion, our list of 280+ UK Construction Exhibitions provides previous attendance data, along with approximate space-only exhibiting rates, where available.
(* Construct UK is a media partner to these events.)
Many of the industry's 300+ journals reach architects via mainstream titles, such as Architects' Journal and RIBA Journal, the latter having a weekly circulation of 28,958 according to its 2020 media pack. Architectural Review has an international audience and its 2019 media pack cites a print circulation of 9,116 and a corresponding readership of 27,348. Its website receives 941,721 users per year.
With over 300 titles in the industry, focused sector targeting can be achieved via a wide range of publications in numerous journals, such as darc (decorative lighting in architecture) (the circulation of which was stated as 12,000 in 2019); Healthcare Design & Management (2019 media pack cites circulation of 8,295); Hotelier and Hotel Design (in 2019 states a readership of over 26,000, incl. 4,300 architects); and Education Design & Build (in 2019 states a circulation of over 8,860, incl. 2,350 architects). Needless to say, these represent just a fraction of the titles in the marketplace. In order to identify the most appropriate journal for your marketing campaign, our index of 330+ UK construction industry journals has been compiled and includes editorial and sales contacts and circulation, together with a short profile of the target audience for each title. You can download it here.
There is a number of specialist market research firms who will undertake specific work on a project-by-project basis and we have provided an index of those with specialist construction industry knowledge and/or experience in our Construction Market Research Agencies feature. However, a cost-effective and targeted architect-focused research service is offered by Competitive Advantage, who conduct ‘Omnibus Surveys' to architects and other specifying professionals. These are conducted by telephone and companies may add questions to the survey, priced on a per question basis.
Telephone Canvassing / Appointment Making
Whilst there is a number of routes to gain the attention of an architect, there is one simple method which is often forgotten – give them a call. A lot of time and money can be invested in various marketing and advertising campaigns by organisations who want to get their product or service specified by an architect, but sometimes it is just easier to pick up the phone and arrange a time to go and see them to discuss how you can assist with a project. The telephone is often the forgotten tool when someone is looking to market their company and, as explained above, the timing is vital for success. One company which can help with this is Crannull, which is an industry leader in the field, specialising in creating opportunities for companies with architects via the telephone, when those companies don’t have the time or internal skill sets to do it themselves.
Architects are required to complete 35 hours of CPD each year and we have covered the use of CPD by construction professionals and the consequent opportunities for suppliers in our CPD and Construction Marketing feature. Research for the Construction Media Index has found that the most trusted source of information for architects are CPD seminars (this is then followed by the publications they read regularly and then, in turn, followed by exhibitions and conferences).
Specialist organisations such as Crannull can make contact with architectural practices to organise CPD presentations on behalf of product manufacturers and suppliers.
We have expanded on the construction marketing opportunities of CPD presentations here.
Product directories represent an important communication channel for product suppliers seeking to reach architects. Construction marketing specialists Insynth posit that building product directories are used in up to 76% of product research in the UK, whilst research for the Construction Media Index has found that architects use product directories significantly more than other industry professionals such as contractors.
In the UK, there are several major product directories that are widely used by specifiers: they include: Barbour Product Search, RIBA Product Selector, SpecifiedBy, Building Product Index, and The Building Centre Product Finder. According to Insynth, these five alone report over 3 million visits per year to their websites and 20 million page views or searches.
Our index of Construction Product Directories can be found here.