Signs of steady demand for architects in RIBA Future Trends survey for May 2017

The Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) monthly Future Trends workload index – a tool used to measure RIBA members’ confidence in the market for architectural services – changed little in May 2017, rising to +23 (up from +22 in April).

London-based practices were again the most cautious about increasing workloads (balance figure +12), compared with practices in North of England (+36), South of England (+37); practices in Northern Ireland were by far the most positive with a balance figure of +50.

Practices of all sizes retained similar levels of confidence. Large practices (51+ staff) were slightly more positive (balance figure +25), with small (1-10 staff) and medium-sized (11-50 staff) practices both recording a balance figure of +23.

The private housing sector and commercial sectors were again expected to be the strongest performing sectors (balance figures of +22 and +7 respectively). The public sector forecast rose slightly but remained in negative territory at –2; the community sector forecast fell to zero, indicating no anticipated change in workloads.

The RIBA Future Trends staffing index fell in May 2017 to +7 (down from +9 in April). Large and medium-sized practices remained similarly upbeat about increasing future staffing levels (both recording balance figures of +13). Small practices were somewhat less confident but still positive (balance figure +6).

RIBA Executive Director Members, Adrian Dobson, said:

“The picture in May was one of broadly stable workloads rather than significant growth. The market for smaller-scale residential projects appears to remain buoyant, but some of our respondents reported a cooling of the larger-scale commercial sector market.”


Notes to editors:

  1. For further press information contact Callum Reilly: 020 7307 3757
  2. Completed by a mix of small, medium and large firms based on a geographically representative sample, the RIBA Future Trends Survey was launched in January 2009 to monitor business and employment trends affecting the architects’ profession.
  3. The Future Trends survey is carried out by the RIBA in partnership with the Fees Bureau. Results of the survey, including a full graphical analysis, are published each month at:
  4. The definition for the workload balance figure is the difference between those expecting more work and those expecting less. A negative figure means more respondents expect less work than those expecting more work. This figure is used to represent the RIBA Future Trends workload index, which for May 2017 was +23.
  5. The definition for the staffing balance figure is the difference between those expecting to employ more permanent staff in the next three months and those expecting to employ fewer. A negative figure means more respondents expect to employ fewer permanent staff. This figure is used to represent the RIBA Future Trends staffing index, which for May 2017 was +7.
  6. To participate in the RIBA Future Trends Survey, please contact the RIBA Practice Department on 020 7307 3749 or email The survey takes approximately five minutes to complete each month, and all returns are independently processed in strict confidence.
  7. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a global professional membership body that serves its members and society in order to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment.

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