How has the latest crisis hit the built environment industry?

Anecdotal reports are starting to trickle out that the current crisis is starting to bite into architectural and multi-discipline firms around the world from USA, Europe and Australia. It’s not just the multi-nationals who are hurting but local firms also.

Many of the large multi-national firms are starting to lay off staff as projects are being put on hold or starting to dry up. This is due to the financial crises with credit being hard to obtain for starting new projects and many development companies having their market capitilisation slashed by the falling stockmarkets. 

The housing bubbles in USA, Europe and China are starting to burst with housing prices dropping, auction clearances heading into single figures and consumer confidence down as access to credit gets tighter with many people are putting off buying new property.

When will the crisis end? Many are saying that it is merely a 6–8 month pause in booming countries such as China where developers from Hong Kong have placed projects on hold until mid-2009. Others say this is the just the start of the bottom and the final outcome won’t be known until mid-late 2009 when the market will fully know the issues and problems and that the credit card and car loan defaults are yet to come in the next few months.

Some seem certain that the market will contract, there will be lay offs and competition will get harder for all who are looking for new projects.

So what is the ‘silver lining’ of the crisis?
Clients of current projects will be the winners as the levels of service will increase and projects will have the design and detail resolution that is often lack in boom periods.

Many architecture and multi-discipline firms are starting to look for other sources of revenue income and use some of their cash reserves to head to China and UAE(as visits to existing companies by newcomers to the market are up). However they could be in for a rude surprise by some accounts that staff in major developing cities in China and UAE are also seeing a slowdown due to the crisis.

Those firms who only lay off small numbers and then take this slow time to start training key staff to be better prepared and ready for when the market turns up. Many firms complain about the lack project managment and people management skills in by their upper and middle management well here is the opportune time to train key staff and up and comers to prepare your firm for the future.

How is the crisis hitting your firm or employer? Leave comments below. 

 

It’s one big battle for the brains – The Times

Chris Reay, the CEO of Engineer Placements, says the industry is especially vulnerable because engineers are in demand around the world. He says that often when he tries to contact some of the engineers on his company’s database he finds they “are now in Perth, Dubai or China”.

Also, it is not only South Africa that is suffering from a skills deficit — the whole world is affected. When it comes to the lack of technical skills, South Africa is far from alone. In the case of engineers, for example, she says that Germany needs about 8 000.

The Times – It’s one big battle for the brains

Editor – More and more people are not returning back to developed countries due to the higher cost of living, higher taxes and lack of challenging opportunities at home.

UAE among top 10 destinations for workers

UAE among top 10 destinations for workers

DUBAI: The UAE has been ranked among the top 10 preferred destinations for workers, attracting quality workforce from all over the globe with its vibrant job market, a survey has revealed.

The survey ‘Relocating For Work’, conducted by Manpower Middle East said that with the region growing as a popular destination for workers, the UAE was rated sixth among the top 10 preferred destinations, a leading gulf daily reported.

SOURCE: The Hindu Business Line : UAE among top 10 destinations for workers.

Foriegn firms aren’t just in India for the cash

The Times of India looks at foreign firms in India and talks about

Be it a slum redevelopment project in congested Mumbai or Kolkata’s new museum of modern art, the global imprint on the country’s fast-changing urban landscape is evident. Made in India but designed by a clutch of foreign architects looking to cash in on the country’s real estate boom.

This is true of many developing nations (UAE, China, India, Vietnam, Tanzania,) that when the first major projects such as airports, museums, galleries, opera houses are slated for design and then construction many foreign firms are issued the contracts. And as the article speaks about it has a lot to do with star marketing power but often it has more to do with the experience of designing and building large scale projects and finalising them within a short time frame(eg Olympic, Commonwelath Games Venues).

The author refers to RMJM, Foster and Partners, HOK, who all have experience in large scale projects but also have offices all around the world so they understand what it takes to open a new office in a developing nation and to make it work.

Having international firms design infrastructure, civic and residential projects is not all bad, the country benefits from projects being seen on the world scale an example is the Olympic Stadium (bird’s nest) in Beijing many people have known about this building years in advance of the Olympics. The main benefit to the developing country is that many of these large firms employ local workers and train them in the international standard of design, engineering and detailing which they can then take to a local firm or move on and open their own firm. This is true of many of the major cities in China where over the last 15 years foreign firms have opened offices and worked on large scale projects and local firms have learnt from their successes and failures (in design and business) and now compete quite successfully against foreign firms.

Most of all it is up to local firms, schools and governments to educate the current and future designers of India so that they can compete and win against foreign firms not just from North America and Europe developed Asian countries but their developing neighbors such as China.

SOURCE of Original Article: Times of India – Foreign hands building India – Author: Neelam Raaj

Ekistics designs golf courses, entire cities – TheChronicleHerald.ca

Designing a new city in northern Libya for two million people seems a daunting task, but Rob LeBlanc doesn’t seem fazed by it.

“It’s a massive, massive project,” the landscape architect says of the resort city he is planning on the Mediterranean coast.

“It details where houses are going to go, the industrial parks, airports, office buildings.”

Landscape architects, who specialize in large scale land planning and design, are in demand around the globe, says LeBlanc, who launched his company, Ekistics Planning & Design of Dartmouth, about 12 years ago.

That demand spurred LeBlanc, 41, to start a separate company, Land Inc., about 18 months ago; it focuses solely on international projects. That company, which shares an office with Ekistics, is designing golf courses, resorts and even entire cities in countries such as China, Egypt and Morocco.

Read more @ the SOURCE: Nova Scotia News – TheChronicleHerald.ca.

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