‘This is not like 2008 - I don’t know why people are panicking’ says John Assael

Several architects’ practices are defying Brexit jitters to take on staff.

Assael, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and Cullinan Studio are among the firms that are recruiting.

The news comes as other practices lay off staff, including Make and Sheppard Robson. Others like PRP have instituted a recruitment freeze.

John Assael said he appointed four new people the day after the referendum and was about to make offers to four more. He also anticipates replacing his five part Is once they return to university in September.

“We have just paid our staff their summer bonuses, we’re looking to expand the office and we’re taking on more staff because we haven’t seen any evidence to make us panic,” he said.

After the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, Assael made 17 redundancies as the global economy went into meltdown. But this time it feels different because it appears to be just the UK that is affected, he said.

Most of Assael’s work is in housing and London needs to build at least twice as many flats each year before demand is satisfied.

“I think we will be better insulated than the commercial sector,” he said.

“I can’t believe so many jobs have been cancelled to result in so many redundancies in just a couple of weeks after the referendum.

“If people like Make are making people redundant it’s serious because they look after their staff so well.

“But I am bewildered by all the uncertainty reflected in housebuilders’ shares collapsing and the way people are withdrawing from property funds. It seems to be a panic.”

Meanwhile, Cullinan’s is advertising for architects with at least two years’ experience post-part III “to start asap”. The practice is also offering year-out placements for part Is.

Feilden Clegg is also recruiting at all levels as well as looking for a BIM manager.

Partner Keith Bradley, who described the vote for Brexit as “an extraordinary piece of self-harm”, predicted the practice would “see the consequences” in terms of future projects once the smoke from the “bombshell” had cleared.

But right now the practice has plenty of projects with signed contracts, he said.

“We have a really healthy confirmed workload spread across all sectors and we are recruiting,” he said.

“What we are certainly not doing is over-reacting or panicking. We’re going to talk to our clients and calmly see how things go.”

The morning of the result they sent reassuring letters to all their staff, around a quarter of whom are European.