From the Pantheon to Brunelleschi’s dome to Giò Ponti’s pathbreaking Pirelli Tower, Italy has one of the world’s proudest architectural heritages. But has this rich tradition inspired too many architects for one country to support? According to a new report from the Architects’ Council of Europe, there are 153,000 licensed architects in Italy — a huge sum representing 27 percent of all the architects on the Continent. That’s 50,000 more architects than there are in the United States, and more than the number in Britain and Germany combined.

“There are just too many of us, which makes for a very difficult working environment,” said Luciano Lazzari, an architect in Trieste who is also the president of the Architects’ Council of Europe. “I was in Brussels recently and people asked me why we have so many architects. I honestly don’t know why, apart from the tradition. It’s a profession that’s always been highly regarded in the past, and it still sounds good when you say it at parties, but in reality we are not well off.”1

The fourth edition of the Sector Study commissioned by the Architects’ Council of Europe2 shows that the architectural profession is a growing, flexible, resilient and international profession. While the economic background continues to be difficult, it reveals some encouraging trends and perspectives, as well as a renewed optimism in the profession.

The ACE Sector Study is a biennial survey that collects and analyses statistical, sociological and economic data on European Architects, the architectural market and architectural practices. Based on responses from 18.000 Architects in 26 European countries, the 2014 edition of the Study has been enriched with new research areas, making it, without doubt, the most comprehensive study on the architectural profession in Europe and an essential reference tool for all those interested in the architectural profession and the built environment.

The Study allows us to draw insightful comparisons between European countries and thus to shed new light on national situations. It helps us to better understand how the profession has been affected and transformed by the economic crisis and offers a detailed picture of the new reality the architectural profession must face.

The research confirms that architecture is a growing profession – the number of Architects in Europe-31 is estimated to be 567.000, an increase of 6% since 2012. Architecture is also a flexible profession – in response to the crisis, architects often set up in their own if they are made redundant or cannot get a job. The survey shows that the number of single person practices has increased by about 22% since 2012. Architecture is moreover a resilient profession: on average, practice revenue and profits for all but one person practices have increased. For the first time, the Study looks at the cross-border training and work of the Architects, showing that Architecture is an international profession: 18% of European Architects were at least partly trained in another country, and 5% worked in another country in the last year.3

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  • 2. The 2014 ACE Sector Study can be downloaded in English and French on the ACE website.
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