To export its architecture, France must follow the example of the United Kingdom

The Association of French Architects for Export, Aphex, has just given the results of a study that takes stock and prospects for the performance of French architects for export. It was re-launched in 2021 by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Culture, Ecological Transition, and Economy, on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs within the framework of the Komarex (Inland Committee for the Export of Architecture). This study provides both quantitative data and qualitative analysis and leads a series of proposals to strengthen the presence of French architects internationally. It will be officially released in early summer.

The study’s author, Lucy Corset, recalls previously known figures: only 4.2% of the turnover of some 30,000 French architects is achieved through exports, however, a share in the continued growth, as it did in 1992, at 2.2% Was, and the result of which still remains a very small number of agencies, since only 2.6% of agencies export. It explains the author, “Or agencies of significant size, be a common activity”, Among which is found “Star architects, very well recognized but very few in number”, Or smaller agencies, in niche markets, such as healthcare establishments or state-of-the-art infrastructure.

If architects working in export appreciate “Possibility to practice their talent more freely”, French agencies suffer from a number of disabilities that try to identify reports: allows prospecting for cash flow and staffing problems, but also lacks strategy, geographic targeting, time projection, or more cost accounting. Amid the shortage, Lucy Corset explains.

“Set a riba la fran├žais”

French architects are often sought abroad mainly for major facilities, especially cultural ones, or sustainable urban development projects for which they are famous. French architects occupy the second place on the European export podium behind the United Kingdom, which is historically very dynamic (14% of the agencies’ business is exported). The structure of publicity and aid to export, Riba (Royal Institute of British Architects) appears to Ephex to be particularly effective in carrying out its missions.

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Madeline Hebart, Secretary General of Afflex, noted its need “Putting together a french riba”, To make it real by developing apex “With systematic distribution to all architects of the call for the organization of export resource centers, tenders, international training, architecture promotion, or even compulsory international internships”..

Act in concert with diplomatic network

In the same vein, the report recommends “Raise awareness among public officials abroad” On the challenges of exporting French architecture, and promoting architectural diplomacy. For Bryce Pichazek, the vice president of the office, the objective is “To activate the entire French diplomatic network, which is one of the densest places in the world to promote architecture”. Apex wishes for the future “To coordinate [ses] Incentives for Prospecting with Diplomacy “. From this point of view, Combrex’s reactivation, accordingly, shows “This strategy relates to the recovery plan, as there is a significant economic weight in the ecosystem supporting the architect, given the architect’s stated role”, and this “Despite Significantly Less Business” Of the profession itself.

Among other recommendations of the report, the Secretary-General noted this “Strengthen relations with Business France” And improving coordination with this structure to promote French companies for export. It also expects a lot from a VIE (international volunteer in companies) called “Sector”, which should be launched soon by the government, and thereby benefit the profession. Finally, Afex suggests “Take the initiative to welcome foreign professionals to French agencies and engage in reciprocity” : “it’s very interesting”, Says Madeleine Hobart, “Entering markets and getting to know them better” ; And foreign architects who have worked in French agencies “The Best Ambassadors of French Architecture”. From this point of view, African architects are “next goal”.

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About the Author: Forrest Morton

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