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Singapore's 20 largest architecture firms 2016

DP Architects and Aedas top the list.

Hiring sentiment for architects remains subdued as local projects dwindle, but optimism remains as firms expand abroad.

Around a decade ago, the majority of business revenues of the DP group of companies came from local projects, but overseas projects now represent a big source of revenue for the architecture and design consultancy group. This is becoming a typical story in Singapore, where many architectural companies have chosen to expand abroad as the pipeline of local projects thins.

While overseas expansion has helped prop up hiring demand for architects, firms are feeling the pinch due to the domestic slowdown, which prevents them from expanding their headcount. “We feel overseas projects will start to contribute by 20% more towards our revenue mix given our presence in the Middle East and the many opportunities we have found there. We are opening new offices in Istanbul and Doha, and are hiring in line to support project needs and requirements,” says Angelene Chan, CEO of DP group of companies.

Cautious with headcount Architecture companies, in response, have been careful about adding headcount with new hiring efforts often intended for staff replacement rather than
for staff expansion. “As property cooling measures remain in place in Singapore, the quieter residential market has affected hiring demand in the sector,” says Lynne Roeder, managing director at Hays in Singapore. “While companies are not actively downsizing, they are more cautious with headcount.”

She reckons that with local residential projects drying up, architecture firms are not only looking to overseas for growth but also to a few flourishing local sectors, a strategy which has helped stave off major layoffs. “Architects are not facing heavy retrenchment exercises, instead, roles are shifting towards specific sectors, mostly into infrastructure where
developments in Singapore and more commonly in countries around the region continue to be driven by new and ongoing projects,” says Raymond Tan, team lead for property and real estate, Randstad Singapore.

While demand for architects is on the decline, he expects brighter hiring prospects for interior designers with experience in corporate fit outs, medical planners, both local and overseas, and project managers with strong experience in healthcare and transport. Many firms have switched their focus to look for opportunities in the public sector. “Some smaller firms that specialise in residential or small-scale projects have encountered difficulties in qualifying, and securing government infrastructure projects,” says Shao Yen Tan, managing director of CPG Consultants. “Many architectural firms which are beginning to switch focus to seek opportunities overseas may find challenges in building up their networks, limitations in expertise and resources, as well as high operational costs in their Singapore home office, or attracting Singaporean staff to be based overseas or travel frequently.”

Who made it to SBR’s list?
DP Architects and Aedas remained the two largest architecture firms in Singapore based on total number of locally registered architects with headcounts of 79 and 71, respectively. CPG Consultants rose to third place from fifth, with numbers increasing to 69 from 52. The list also welcomes new entries including AWP, Laud Architects, Swan & Maclaren Architects, and RDC Architects.

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