Included in this article:
- Downloadable database of architectural practices
- Profile of UK architects
- Current market and size
- Marketing and promotion
- Journals read by architects
- Exhibitions attracting architects
- Market research
- Telephone canvassing / appointment making
- CPD in the architecture sector
- Product directories
- Other resources
Downloadable Database of Architectural Practices
In order to support this feature, we have identified senior named contacts for over 1,350 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 June 2022 Architects’ Journal 'Top 100' league table (AJ100) have been included.
The new edition of the database (published in Autumn 2023) has seen a considerable number of changes compared to the previous 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, email and LinkedIn addresses. This latest edition provides a high number of named email addresses, at around 87%, 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 £95 + VAT from our Shop.
Profile of UK Architects
There are two principal bodies representing UK architects – the Architects Registration Board (ARB) and The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). 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).
In March 2023, the Architects Council of Europe (ACE) published its report, The Architectural Profession in Europe - A Sector Study. This detailed report estimates that there were approximately 42,200 architects and 11,063 practices in the UK. Most architectural practices are small and there is no one firm which has a dominant market share. The report breaks-down the practice sizes as follows:
Number of practices with 1 member of staff 7,280
Number of practices with 2 members of staff 2 1,540
Number of practices with 3 to 5 members of staff 1,226
Number of practices with 6 to 10 members of staff 631
Number of practices with 11 to 30 members of staff 267
Number of practices with 31 to 50 members of staff 52
Number of practices with over 50 members of staff 68
In June 2023, the annual Architects Journal survey of the top 100 practices (AJ100) revealed that 7,425 (2022 – 7,036) architects were employed in the UK in the top 100 listed firms, representing the highest number in the survey’s 28-year history. Foster + Partners were ranked the largest by the number of architectural staff employed (1,193), and BDP were identified as the practice that earned the most from UK-based architecture projects by total fees paid. In terms of the number of architectural staff permanently employed by AJ100 practices the survey recorded 13,335.
In terms of gender, the ACE report identified that 71% of registered architects were male and 27% female (prefer not to say – 2%). In terms of age, 12% were under 35, 35% were aged between 35 and 49, 32% were aged between 50 and 64, and 22% were aged 65 or over (we assume the total of 101% is as a result of rounding up).
The ACE report also said that 28% were identified as sole practitioners, 29% were identified as partner/director, 9% were described as associates, and 22% 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.)
Current Market and Size
The ACE report estimated that the value of the UK’s architectural market was €2,777,022 in 2022, and the breakdown for heritage/refurbishment and new build was 57% and 43% respectively. When analysing the type of projects, the report found:
Individual houses, extensions and loft conversions 52%
Private Housing 12%
Public Housing 2%
Other Private 6%
Other Public 5%
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 the ConstructUK Directory, we have detailed many of the communications channels open to suppliers targeting the architectural sectors of the UK and Ireland and we invite you to explore these pages to discover many of the resources available to construction product marketers.
More generally, it is worth remembering that architects, themselves, will generally prioritise aesthetics and, consequently, respond to visually presented information. It is also important to recognise that architects are time-poor and, therefore, any contact attempt needs to be perfectly timed. On this point, according to construction sales support specialists Crannull, architects are the second most marketed-to profession in the UK.
Published in 2023, the NBS’s survey, What Specifiers Want, considered the specification preferences of various professional disciplines and found that 92% of architects are more likely to include named manufacturers when specifying products. The resulting, free to download, report provides valuable information on the approaches and attitudes of specifiers in terms of product selection, and it is worth noting that some 48% of all respondents to the survey worked at architectural practices.
Unsurprisingly, the internet is often a starting point for architects seeking construction product information. Search engines, product directories and manufacturer websites all provide useful data. Research for the Construction Media Index shows that architects use product directories significantly more than contractors, yet contractors use YouTube more than architects, for example. However, architects are keen readers of industry magazines and journals.
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 sources of product information and ideas for architects are 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.
In their article How to Target Architects, construction marketing specialists, Time54, point out that architects will frequently specify products and brands with which they are comfortable and have worked with in previous projects because they know how to integrate a product into their plans and will be happy with the product’s performance, manufacturer’s support, etc. Therefore, it is important to understand how to break through this barrier, and the article explains ways in which this can be achieved, including becoming expert in the typical problems that architects experience in order to build awareness and trust in a particular product and manufacturer.
Therefore, to summarise this point - passive marketing is key to generating awareness and we have expanded on some of the principal communication channels below.
Journals Read by Architects
The enduring marketing value of journals to construction product suppliers is underlined by research, such as that undertaken for the Construction Media Index, which found that 85% of architects read industry publications.
Directly focused titles read by architects include Architects' Journal (AJ), RIBA Journal, and Architectural Review which has a UK and wide international audience. RIBA Journal’s 2023 media pack cites an audited circulation of 25,160 and Architectural Review’s cites a print circulation of 7,000 and a website usership of 92,000 per month (AJ can provide a media pack on request).
Many of the rest of the industry's 300+ journals also reach architects, enabling sector-specific targeting through journals, such as darc (decorative lighting in architecture), the circulation of which was stated as 16,000 in 2023, with 46% of readers being Architects / Interior Designers); Healthcare Design & Management, the 2023 media pack for which cites circulation of 8,295, of which 20% are architects (this includes its sister title - MHDF); Hotelier and Hotel Design - the 2023 media pack states that the readership includes 4,300 architects; and Education Design & Build, for which the 2023 media pack gives a circulation of 8,860, of which 30% are architects (this includes its sister title - HEE). 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 includes editorial and sales contacts and circulation, together with a short profile of the target audience for each title. You can download it here.
Further insight is available through Insynth’s 2022 edition of the Digital Construction MediaGuide - Architectural Media, which provides an assessment of the top 52 journals that have a clear architectural element and/or building products coverage and “…. demonstrate that a significant proportion of their content was primarily written for architects and designers”. You can see the full list on the preceding link, however the top ten are as follows:
- The Architects Journal
- Architectural Review
- The Spaces
- BD online
Exhibitions Attracting Architects
As our calendar of UK construction exhibitions reveals, the industry hosts over 180 different trade shows of all sizes, which are 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 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 in 2023 said it received 3,500+ visitors from architectural & design firms. Elsewhere, the Architect at Work event is a two-day trade fair aimed at the London architecture and design (A&D) community, whilst the organisers of the annual London Build* event said that 13% of the 12,611 visitors in 2022 were architects. Futurebuild* 2023 recorded 17,818 visitors and their visitor breakdown shows 26% were architects & designers.
Key regionally focused events also cite architects as important attendee groups, and include South East Construction Expo* in Surrey and Regen* in Liverpool. Sector-specific events attracting architects include Offsite Expo* (2023 edition – 3,740 visitors of which 14% were architects); The Workplace Design Show (the 2023 edition of which received 3,450 visitors of which 65% were described as architects & Designers); the Surface Design Show (2023 edition – 5,630 visitors of which 80% were said to be from the architecture and design sector); Digital Construction Show (2023 edition – 6,400+ visitors of which 19% were said to be from the architecture and design sector); and The Stone Show (2023 edition – attendance included 8 of the top 10 UK architectural & design practices and 25 from the top 50).
In order to assist manufacturers and suppliers in researching the most appropriate trade shows to support their marketing and promotion, our list of 180+ UK Construction Exhibitions provides previous attendance data and approximate space-only exhibiting rates, where available.
(* Construct UK is a media partner to these events.)
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 covering 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 products or services 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 a company and, as explained above, the timing is vital for success. One company which can help with this is ArchiSpec:d, (part of Crannull), who specialise in creating opportunities with architects, via the telephone, for companies who don’t have the time or internal skill sets to do it themselves.
The Architects Registration Board (ARB) was given new powers in the Building Safety Act 2022 “…to monitor the training and development architects carry out throughout their careers”. This enables them to aid the continued learning of registered architects throughout their professional lives. Subsequently, the ARB consulted on a new CPD scheme, publishing a report in June 2023, and confirmed that a new CPD scheme would be introduced in 2024. Details for the new scheme’s proposals can be found here. Separately, RIBA Chartered Member 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. As mentioned above, research for the Construction Media Index has found that the most trusted source of information for architects is CPD seminars (followed by the publications they read regularly and then, in turn, followed by exhibitions and conferences). The research has also shown that 48% of architects attend a CPD event because it is relevant to one of their current projects, which can be interpreted as indicating their interest in a specific product or system.
In Insynth’s article, CPD That Works Best For Architects, Vice President of Manchester Society of Architects, Paul Iddon, looks at these new legislative changes and their influence on CPD from a marketer’s perspective. The article provides a comprehensive overview of CPD delivery in the architecture sector and, underlining the importance of the Building Safety Act, Iddon provides a pertinent anecdote saying, “……I run the twice-monthly CPD programme on Zoom, the most recent being on the recent Building Safety Act. The normal sign-up rate for a product CPD is around 35-60, with a show-up rate of about 55-60%. This one achieved 95 sign-ups with 60 attendees. This forms part of a recognisable pattern with legislation-based content.”
The 2022 RIBA CPD Report surveyed 390 designers and specifiers to look at attitudes, usage and trends relating to how specifiers accessed CPD (via webinars, in-person seminars, digital materials, etc.). Around half of respondents were architects and, amongst many findings, it found that architects access CPD material in a variety of ways, but that 94% also do it digitally. Almost half of all respondents (47%) continued to undertake CPD in person. The report provides much insight into the topic and a breakdown of its findings can be viewed here.
Specialist organisations such as ArchiSpec:d 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. Not only do they provide architects and other specifiers with fast access to focused product information, but they also provide the opportunity to promote other content, such BIM Objects and CPD. 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 and they include: Barbour Product Search; NBS Source; 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.
Understanding the Architect – Developing Construction Personas
Updated July 2022, this guide from Competitive Advantage provides 46 pages of content to help develop your construction sales and marketing strategy. It covers:
- The role of the Architect
- The Architect Practice
- Architect decision makers
- Architect influencers
- Architect statistics
- Communicating with Architects
- Design tools
- Architect drivers
- Design challenges
- Business challenges
The publication concludes with guidance on how to develop your own Architect persona, with a persona template for you to complete. Details here.
The Opportunities and Challenges of Delivering CPD Post-Pandemic
Communication support services and lead generating services that can target architects on behalf of product manufacturers, are available from a range of service providers including: ArchiSpec:d; Causeway Enhance; and Architect Connect. A full list can be downloaded by subscribers here.