4. A Global Era

British architecture today is an international operation. Of the total income generated by the RIBA’s 3,151 registered chartered practices, 20% is from work outside the UK – for many larger practices the figure is much higher

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KK100 Tower, Shenzen, China, 2004-2011. Farrells. In the 1970's, Shenzen was a fishing village with a population of 20,00. After being declared as a 'Special Economic Zone' in 1979, the city grew explosively to approximately 8 million people today. At 441m high, the tower is tallest in the world by a British architect. It curves upwards to provide offices, trading floors, a hotel and a panoramic sky at its peak. 

Designs generated here travel via a network of offices to all corners of the world, taking architecture into new places at ever greater scales.

As the world has become smaller and more interconnected the distinctions of nationality and borders have come to mean less and less. Over the past 60 years, as the British went out into the world with their ideas, a reverse journey was occurring at the same time. The UK has long been shaped by waves of incoming creative talent and an international outlook that continues to define its identity today.

The UK is THE global hub for architecture with many thousands heading here to study and set up practice. Of all the world’s cities, London has a greater concentration of architects’ practices, engineering and built-environment consultancies than anywhere else. Architecture is part of a melting pot of creative and construction industries that has found an international home here with each borrowing from the other and pushing boundaries through collaboration.

Having reinvented itself several times over in the post war years ‘British architecture’ is increasingly commissioned, created and owned by others. The ‘Brits’ may have built the modern world we see around us today, but it may well be others – trained, influenced and nurtured by the British - who build the world we see tomorrow.