Institute says offers of work for Ukrainian professionals and students must come with six months of free accommodation

RIBA, 66 Portland Place

Source: Philip Vile

RIBA’s 66 Portland Place headquarters

RIBA has said it will use its existing jobs platform to match architects and architecture students fleeing the conflict in Ukraine with opportunities in the UK.

The move follows a call last week from the institute’s former international vice-president Chris Williamson for professionals with spare rooms in their homes to consider offering accommodation to architecture students displaced by the Russian invasion.

Building Design understands the RIBA is already sharing information on professionals and students seeking safety outside of Ukraine with professionals who have offered help and partner organisations in mainland Europe on an informal basis.

But the institute said yesterday that from next week RIBA Jobs would allow chartered practices to advertise roles or apprenticeships for displaced architects and architecture students for free.

It said all jobs would need to be paid in accordance with requirements for chartered practices and would need to come with an offer of free accommodation for an initial six-month period.

The plan has throwbacks to the creation of the RIBA Bureau in the 1930s, which helped to support architects seeking refuge from Nazi Germany.

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Ukrainian refugees head for a border crossing

It comes after the government’s launch of the Homes for Ukraine scheme that is set to allow UK nationals – as well as charities, community groups and businesses – to bring Ukrainians to safety, including those with no family ties to this country.

The first phase of the scheme allows UK sponsors to nominate a named Ukrainian national or a Ukrainian family to stay with them in their home, or in a separate property.

In an update on the Ukraine Crisis section of its website, RIBA said it was aware that many UK-based members and practices are keen to support those who have been forced to leave their homes in Ukraine and Ukrainians already living in the UK.

“We thank those already raising awareness and priming the profession to respond,” it said.

“As an organisation and charity, we are exploring how RIBA members could support the scheme and considering whether we can facilitate a process to match refugees with architectural education and employment opportunities in the UK.

“In the meantime, we encourage anyone who is able to make financial donations to charities providing humanitarian relief – for example, the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund set up by the United Nations.”

Chris Williamson, a founding partner at infrastructure specialist Weston Williamson & Partners, told BD that his call last week for the profession to throw open its offices and homes to architecture students from the Ukraine had generated around 20 offers of help.

He added that he had already lined up an architecture student seeking refuge in the UK, but said their situation was complicated because although they were forced to leave Ukraine, they are not a Ukrainian national.

“He made it to Berlin, we just have to get him from Berlin to here,” Williamson said.

In addition to his commercial work, Williamson also teaches at the London School of Architecture and the University of East London. He said both had pledged to offer tuition to displaced students from Ukraine.

“The difficulty seems to be finding the students; matching offers of help with people,” he said.

Williamson said he was currently signposting people who contacted him with offers of help to the RIBA, the Architects Council of Europe and the National Union of Architects of Ukraine.

He added: “I could offer to house a family, but I just thought let’s try to do something for the profession.”

Last week HLM Architects flagged its keenness to offer work to displaced professionals from Ukraine.

Managing director Karen Mosley said the practice – which employs around 90 architects out of a total staff of 190 – had since been in touch with a number of other firms keen to help architects from Ukraine and had used the website

“We have staff who are volunteering rooms in their homes and so we are currently trying to match and connect all of this together,” she said. “There is a solution here that should bring sanctuary and benefit for everyone.”