UK-based architects are known for their experimental, versatile and futuristic techniques, often producing results that challenge every architectural orthodoxy. Examples of internationally famed UK architects include Sir Norman Foster, Baron Richard Rogers, the late Dame Zaha Hadid, Will Alsop and David Adjaye.
UK architectural practices are pioneers in leading-edge, low-carbon and sustainable architectural design, both social and environmental, and are at the forefront of ecologically-friendly, energy-efficient buildings. A key example is Foster + Partners, whose Masdar City development in Abu Dhabi relies entirely on solar other renewable energy sources.
UK architecture schools attract the best talent from around the world. The UK is home to three out of the top 10 universities for achitecture in the world, according to the 2017 rankings. Examples include Manchester School of Architecture, University College, London and Cambridge Universtiy. RIBA (The Royal Institute of British Architects), the UK body for architecture and the architectural profession, sets the standards for the education of architects, both in the UK and overseas.
London has the highest concentration of architectural practices of any city in the world and is regarded as a global hub of of architectural thinking and teaching. The UK capital imports and exports in both the education and practice of architecture more than any other city worldwide and acts as a meeting place for East and West, for clients, academics, critics and practitioners alike. (Source: Arch Daily).
Many of the UK’s world-famous architects and architectural practices have set up offices overseas.
A high number of prestigious and creative UK-based architects do much of their important work outside the UK. Examples include David Chipperfield, who has been particularly prolific in Germany and Japan, and David Adjaye, who is working in Russia, Asia and the United States.
Some of the world’s most recognisable buildings/structures were designed by UK-based architects. Examples include the Centre Pompidou in Paris; the Swiss Re building, aka the Gherkin, in London; and the Millau Viaduct, in France.
Flagship projects carried out by UK-based architects overseas in recent years include the Rosenthal Centre for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati (Zaha Hadid) and the International Terminal at Beijing Capital International Airport (Foster + Partners).
UK-based architects are regular winners of prestigious international awards. Since 1979, there have been four UK winners of the coveted Pritzker Architecture Prize, widely regarded as the profession’s highest honour – James Stirling, Norman Foster, Richard Rogers and Zaha Hadid, the first woman to have ever been awarded the prize.
UK architects have developed expertise in many different types of building work. These include pioneers in sustainable design such as Edward Cullinan Architects, Bennetts Associates, Feilden Clegg Bradley and Cottrell & Vermeulen; experts in transport infrastructure, such as Foster + Partners, which designed the new Beijing International Airport and Pascall+Watson which developed underground stations for the Gautrain Rapid Rail Network in Johannesburg; and Hopkins Architects, the practice behind the 2011 Cricket World Cup stadium in Pune, India, and the London 2012 Velodrome. Several UK architects firms, including 3DReid and AndArchitects, are involved in the design of venues for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
This expertise is however lightly handled and doesn't not harden into rigid silos and niches.
UK architects are renowned for their pragmatism, are focused on their clients’ needs and ambitions. and are driven to exceed expectations.
Practitioners view architecture as a process of investigation. The spatial development of the project, along with decisions as to how it should be constructed and the search for the most suitable materials, are perceived as an experimental process.
UK architects have a collaborative mentality and excel at working in multidisciplinary teams. Practices are committed to meritocracy and the nurturing of young talent, and have a strong commitment to community and social responsibility.
Many practices have a moral dimension to their work and adopt philosophy statements.They take a holistic approach to the projects that they are commissioned to do, shying away from a one-size-fits-all mentality and instead producing customised applications sensitively tailored to the relevant context.