The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has released the results of the December 2012 Future Trends Survey.
The RIBA Future Trends Workloads Index for December 2012 was +8; rising following a fall in the previous month. The Workload Index has now remained in positive territory since October 2012 which continues to suggest a stable market for architects' services, albeit without signs of any return to overall growth.
London, the South of England, the Midlands, East Anglia, the West and Wales continued to be relatively more optimistic about future workloads, and for the first time since October the North of England also returned an overall positive balance figure. Practices in Scotland and Northern Ireland continue to be much more cautious about workload prospects.
The commercial sector forecast (balance figure +5) saw a significant rise this month, and the private housing forecast (balance figure +5) also increased.
"The upward movements in two key sectors (commercial and private housing) represent a very positive trend for the profession and the wider industry," commented Adrian Dobson, RIBA Director of Practice. "They are the sectors most likely to provide an early indication of any emerging sustainable growth in the UK construction industry."
RIBA members have also reported that projects involving works to existing buildings make up 64% of their workload, a figure which has been increasing steadily since 2010, and suggests that in the present climate conservation, refurbishment and adaptive re-use are important areas for architects to apply their expertise.
The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index decreased marginally to -3 in December 2012, down from -2 in November 2012, suggesting no immediate improvement in the employment market for salaried architects.
Practices in London (balance figure +4) are the most likely to be taking on additional staff during the next quarter, whilst practices in Scotland and Northern Ireland are the most cautious about future staffing levels.