British architects had their best quarter so far concludes Q3 2013 European Architectural Barometer report

In Q3 2013, almost 60% of the British architects saw increasing order books, marking the best quarter for the UK market since 2008. Italy had a very difficult quarter again, while France and Spain show slight indications of improvement. For the first time in two years more than 30% the Dutch architects reported growing order books. Germany is still offering the best market conditions. These are some of the conclusions of the Q3 2013 European Architectural Barometer report, a quarterly research among 1,600 architects in eight European countries. European architects act as a leading indicator for the construction activity.

The UK has been showing a clear recovery during the last six quarters and especially during the last nine months. In Q3 2013, the British market keeps on improving. This quarter is marked by a strong positive order book and turnover development. More than half of the architects (59%) reported to have experienced increasing order books in comparison with Q2 2013. The share of those with still declining order books has shrunk significantly to the lowest ever measured by Arch-Vision 13%. The British market is on the right track and the recovery is getting more stable with every quarter being better than the previous for a larger part of the architects. Despite the obvious improvement, the number of architects expecting an empty order book in the next 12 months is the same as in the previous quarter: 27%. Arch-Vision predicts a 2% rise of the market in 2013 and an increase of 1% in 2014 and 2015.

Both the German order book and turnover development were positive again. More architects reported increase in their order books (31%) than those experiencing a decline (13%). In general, for half of them times are stable and no big changes from quarter to quarter can be seen. In Q3 only 5% expect an empty order book, an indicator which also remains quite the same during the last measurements (Q2 2013: 3%). For 2013 (+2%), 2014 (+2%) and 2015 (+3%) a growth of the German construction market is expected.

In Q3 2013, French architects saw new drops in the order book and turnover, reaching the lowest point since 2008. After Q1 2013 when 50% of the French architect reported decline in their order books, the situation seems to be slightly improving with every passing quarter. In Q3 2013, 24% of the French professionals saw their order book increasing, while 44% experienced a decrease. In Q2 2013 a growing feeling of optimism was observed among the French architects, back then 14% expected an empty order book for the coming 12 months. With the situation improving much slower than expected, more pessimists can be found amongst them this quarter: 22%, going back to the Q1 2013 level. Arch-Vision expects that the French construction market will decrease in 2013 (-4%) and 2014 (-1%), but will grow in 2015 (1%).

The Spanish architects are still experiencing decrease, but the positive thing is that both order book and turnover developments seem to be declining less sharply than in the previous quarters. Q1 2011 was until now the best quarter for the Spanish architects when 22% of them reported increasing order books. The current quarter seems to be the second best quarter for the Spanish architects: 22% saw their order book growing in Q3 2013, against 34% who experienced a declining order book (in Q2, 14% saw an increase and 41% a decrease). Despite the slight positive developments, the Spanish architects are still far below the order book levels of 2008 and there is a significant number (35%) of them expecting an empty order book in the coming 12 months (44% in Q2). A further decline of the Spanish construction market by 5% is to be expected for 2013, while 2014 will see a 3% decrease and 2015 will bring a 1% increase of the market.

After a very bad second quarter in 2013, Italy again has experienced a big drop in the order book and turnover development. Italy has almost reached the levels of Spain, but with no signs of any improvement yet. Only 6% of the architects have seen a growth in their order books, while for 75% the order books are still declining. This quarter, despite of the ongoing bad results, Italian architects are less pessimistic regarding having an empty order book in the next 12 months (32%) in comparison to Q2 (52%). Many obviously think that the bottom has been reached and hope for positive months ahead. Arch-Vision predicts shrinkage of the market by 14% in 2013, by 5% in 2014 and by 2% in 2015.

Again, the Dutch order book and turnover development was negative. This is however better than in the previous quarter. Although the architects reporting declining order books still prevail (39% vs. 35% with increasing order books) this is the first quarter since Q3 2011, when the share of architects experiencing increasing order books is above 30%. If the positive tendency continues, it can be expected soon that there will be a change in the Dutch picture, i.e. more Dutch architects with growing than with decreasing order books. At the moment 24% are expecting an empty order book within the coming 12 months, which is less pessimistic than in the previous quarter (31%). A decline in 2013 (-3%) and 2014 (-1%) is to be expected. By 2015, the market will be recovering slowly (1%).

The positive developments observed in Belgium since the start of the measurements for this country (Q4 2012) continue in Q3 2013 as well. The number of architects indicating an increasing order book (32%) is higher and the number of architects experiencing a decreasing order book is lower (24%) than the previous quarter (28% and 26% resp.). Only 4% expect an empty order book, which is only comparable to the German results.

26%of the Polish architects reported an increase and 42% a shrinkage of their order book. Since Q1 2013 the results have become more positive every quarter. Still it has to be noted that the quite significant share of the Polish architects expecting an empty order book within the next 12 months (31%) remained quite stable.

These and many other results and trends of the developments of the European construction market can be found in the European Architectural Barometer, an international market research conducted among 1,600 architects in Europe. This study is conducted in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium and Poland by Arch-Vision four times a year. Besides indicators to forecast the European building volumes, a specific topic is highlighted each quarter. The topic in Q3 2013 was “Sustainability”. Architects can be used not only as a reliable source for future building volumes information, but their role is very important as they have great influence on how projects are built and which materials are used.