After two years in 11th spot, Scott Brownrigg has broken into the AJ100 top 10 this year, despite a slight dip in its UK architect head count.
Total architectural fee income dropped to just below £20 million from nearly £23.8 million in last year’s survey, due, the practice says, to the tough market conditions at the start of the period, which it attributes to uncertainty surrounding the Brexit referendum. However, Scott Brownrigg is now seeing strong demand in the residential, office and advanced technology sectors and is also increasingly looking for new work overseas. About 18 per cent of its overall fee income currently comes from abroad, but it is looking to expand this significantly, with a long-term ambition to make it 50 per cent.
As part of this post-referendum drive, Scott Brownrigg is planning to open an office in Amsterdam. This will primarily serve what the practice perceives to be a growing market for data centre work in northern Europe, and will be led by the company’s advanced technologies group director, Iain Macdonald.
Further afield, Scott Brownrigg won a project in Nairobi this year and continued work on other major schemes, including at Istanbul New Airport, where it is the lead designer on the terminal building.
‘Our five-year plan included a strategic decision to expand our international portfolio of work with a target of generating significantly more projects globally and exporting design services overseas,’ says chief executive Darren Comber.
Back at home, the practice completed the redevelopment of its own 1985-designed Victoria Gate building in Woking. The office building was stripped back to its original frame, modernised and extended.
Significant planning permissions won over the period included consent for a mixed-use ‘gastronomic quarter’ in west London. The scheme will see two towers of 35 and 25 storeys created on a 0.75ha site in North Acton.
With workload now on the up, Scott Brownrigg expects to increase its UK architecture head count in 2018 and has been recruiting for its London, Surrey and Cardiff offices. The practice works closely with the Welsh School of Architecture in Cardiff and the Bartlett School of Architecture in London in its search for the best graduates. It also played a key role in the development of the Department for Education’s Apprenticeship Standard for Architecture and will be taking on people through this route later this year.
Scott Brownrigg was one of only three architecture practices to be included in the 2017 Sunday Times Top 200 Tracker list and was named in the 2017 London Stock Exchange directory as one of its ‘Companies to Inspire Europe’.
The practice has restructured its governance over the past year, increasing its number of shareholders from 24 to 68, all of whom are employees of the firm.
‘With this shared ownership structure comes a sense of collective purpose, which is helping to deliver tangible results,’ says Comber.