Dr Henrik Schoenefeldt

Senior Lecturer
AHRC Leadership Fellow
Research Leave until 2019/20


Qualifications: PhD (Cantab), MPhil (Cantab), DipArch (Port/TUVienna)

Dr. Henrik Schoenefeldt is Senior Lecturer in Sustainable Architecture (US: Associate Professor) and AHRC Leadership Fellow at the School of Architecture.  He is on research leave up until Michaelmas 2018 to lead a large AHRC funded project investigating the Houses of Parliament’s historic ventilation system.  The project, which is entitled ‘Between Heritage and Sustainabiliy – Restoring the Palace of Westminster’s nineteenth-century ventilation system,’ feeds into the Palace of Westminster Restoration and Renewal Programme.

Henrik trained as an architect in the UK and Austria and specialized in environmental design with an MPhil and PhD from the University of Cambridge. His supervisor was Professor Alan Short. Henrik has a particular research interest in the history of environmental design in architecture and his current research investigates how a critical understanding of past environmental principles could inform contemporary sustainable practice in the context of building conservation. Despite the historical focus of the research, his architectural background remained critical in this research as it provided him with the understanding required to analyse potentially significant technical and scientific aspects of architectural design. These are frequently neglected by more conventional architectural historians with a specific art-historical training. His research has been recognized as a contribution to our understanding of historic buildings by historians as well as by practitioners and various professional bodies. His recently publications includes an article in the AA Files entitled ‘The First (Lost) Chamber of the House of Commons’.

Over the past five years, Henrik has been extensively involved in teaching and curriculum development within the School. He developed several new modules with the aim of fostering stronger links between research, practice and teaching in the field of sustainable design. This was underpinned by research funded through the Higher Education Academy and a collaborative research-project on PassivHaus standard within the UK, which involved researchers, industry-based practitioners and students. Among these new modules developed over this period is the MSc Module AR828 – REDISCOVERY: Understanding historic buildings and past environmental technologies and the MArch modules AR546- Sustainable Technology in the Context of Architecture, AR647: Design-led Research in Architecture, and AR600 - Architectural Pedagogy. The latter is a taught module in architectural education, which combines a formal program of lectures, tutorials and seminars with research and teaching practice. For his contribution to architectural education he has been awarded the 2016 Faculty of Humanities Teaching Prize.

Research Interests

  • History of environmental design and technology
  • The technical development of the horticultural glasshouse in nineteenth century Europe
  • History of science in the context of architecture
  • Cross-disciplinarity in nineteeth and twentieth century architecture
  • Theory and history of landscape architecture
  • Architectural Education
  • PassivHaus design and its adoption in the UK

Past and current research:

Henrik’s interest is in the study of sustainable design principles and technologies deployed in contemporary as well as historic buildings. Henrik is currently also the Principal Investigator of two research projects on the PassivHaus standard in the UK, which includes a post-occupancy study and a larger collaborative research project, explore the critical issues underlying the delivery of the German PassivHaus standard in the UK through primary research. The latter involved, among others, interviews with the contractors, manufacturer, consultants, architects and client bodies involved in fifteen selected projects. These provided detailed insights into this issues from cross-industry perspective.
Another research focus is the study of historic environmental technologies and the history of environmental design in architecture from a technical, cultural and design perspective. He has a particular interest in the scientific experiments and monitoring techniques used in the design development and post-occupancy evaluation of buildings and technologies in the past. Another research area is the pedagogy of environmental design.

His PhD (Cambridge 2007-11) explores the environmental design principles developed in the context of glasshouse design in the nineteenth-century and how the horticulturalist Joseph Paxton exploited these principles to manage the climate inside the Great Exhibition Building (1850-51) and the Crystal Palace at Sydenham (1852-54). The research has revealed that these two buildings represented two pioneering experiments in adapting glasshouses specifically for exhibits and human beings rather than plants. This aspect has not been studied before and his research has yielded peer-reviewed papers in four journals.

Further research investigated the role of environmental design in the modern movement, focusing on the tension between the use of bioclimatic principles and mechanical strategies in building design and urban planning. Henrik also conducted archival research in Chicago and New York to investigate and to study the environmental strategies used in office building design in nineteenth and twentieth century America. This research illuminated the transition from building which exploited a largely passive approach to lighting, ventilation and climate control to the full mechanization (integration) of these functions (within) of architecture. Aside from recovering the experience gained with these strategies in the past, the research investigated how these past solutions could be adapted to achieve low energy buildings today.

Henrik has presented his research to a wide range of audiences, which has shown that it was valued not only by architects and academics, but also by civil engineers and building conservationists. He presented at the Passive Low Energy Architecture Conference, Martin Centre, CRASSH, Institution of Structural Engineers and the Institute of Historical Research and the RIBA. He recently presented a paper at the New Directions in Gothic Revival Studies on the relationship between architects, scientists and engineers in the development of the ventilation systems of the House of Parliament. His presentations were followed by interesting cross-disciplinary discussions about the value of a historical understanding of environmentally driven innovation in architecture.

He is currently preparing a book on the subject of his PhD and working on three journal papers exploring the role of environmental design experimentation in the design of the Houses of Parliament.

Dr. Henrik Schoenefeldt is on research leave up until Michaelmas 2018, leading a large AHRC funded project investigating the Houses of Parliament’s historic ventilation system, which feeds into the Palace of Westminster Restoration and Renewal Programme. The project is entitled ‘Between Heritage and Sustainabiliy – Restoring the Palace of Westminster’s nineteenth-century ventilation system. The main aim of the project is to gain a critical understanding of the original Victorian environmental principles deployed in the Houses of Parliament, and to explore how far these could be reutilised to form part of a more sustainable approach to ventilation and climate control today. For details about the project please visit the project website.




Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository


  • Schoenefeldt, H. (2018). Historic research as an applied science. Contexts - Journal of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation 2018:17-19.
  • Schoenefeldt, H. (2018). The Historic Ventilation System of the House of Commons, 1840-52: revisiting David Boswell Reid's environmental legacy. Antiquaries Journal 98.
  • Schoenefeldt, H. (2018). The House of Commons: a historic precedent for post-occupancy evaluation. Building Research [Online] 6:635-665. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/09613218.2019.1547547.
  • Schoenefeldt, H. and Kohler, M. (2017). The Royal Standard. CIBSE Journal [Online] 2017:36-38. Available at: http://www.cibsejournal.com/archive/PDFs/CIBSE-Journal-2017-04.pdf.
  • Schoenefeldt, H. (2016). Question Time. CIBSE Journal [Online] 2016:70-74. Available at: http://www.cibsejournal.com/archive/PDFs/CIBSE-Journal-2016-09.pdf.
  • Schoenefeldt, H. (2016). And after that.. RIBA Journal [Online]:51-52. Available at: https://www.ribaj.com/intelligence/and-after-that.
  • Schoenefeldt, H. (2016). The Lost (First) Chamber of the House of Commons. AA Files 72:161-173.
  • Schoenefeldt, H. (2014). The Temporary Houses of Parliament  and David Boswell Reid's architecture of experimentation. Architectural History 57:175-215.

Book section

  • Schoenefeldt, H. and Campbell, J. (2018). Introduction. in: Campbell, J. ed. History in the Study of Services and Construction. Cambridge: Construction History Society, pp. 1-10.
  • Schoenefeldt, H. (2016). Architectural and Scientific Principles in the Design of the Palace of Westminster. in: Brittain-Catlin, T., Bressani, M. and De maeyer, J. eds. Gothic Revival Worldwide A.W.N. Pugin's Global Influence. Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press, pp. 175-199. Available at: http://upers.kuleuven.be/en/book/9789462700918.
  • Schoenefeldt, H. (2014). Science Revolution. in: Jones, D. ed. Architecture - The whole story. London: Prestel. Available at: http://www.randomhouse.de/paperback/Architecture-The-Whole-Story/Ed-Denna-Jones/e447640.rhd?pub=58500.

Conference or workshop item

  • Schoenefeldt, H. (2016). Between measurements and perception – How Victorian scientists assessed the climatic conditions inside the Houses of Commons, 1852- 54. in: Architecture and Experience in the Nineteenth Century.. Available at: http://www.history.ox.ac.uk/faculty/events/event/2016/03/17//tx_cal_phpicalendar/architecture-and-experience-in-the-nineteenth-century.html.
  • Schoenefeldt, H. (2015). Reid's Short-lived ventilation system for the Permanent House of Commons. in: Campbell, J. et al. eds. Second Conference of the Construction History Society. Cambridge: Construction History Society, pp. 167-180. Available at: http://www.arct.cam.ac.uk/events/second-annual-construction-history-society-conference-2015-and-international-colloquium-on-construction-history-british-building-construction-and-its-influences.


  • Schoenefeldt, H. (2016). Architectural Pedagogy Bussey, J. and Hope, C. eds. [Exhibition Catalogue].

Internet publication

  • Schoenefeldt, H. et al. (2014). Interrogating the technical, economic and cultural challenges of delivering the PassivHaus standard in the UK. [PDF downloadable online]. Available at: http://www.kent.ac.uk/architecture/conference/2014/passivhaus/PassivHaus_UK_eBook.pdf.

Confidential report

  • Schoenefeldt, H. (2014). First Report on the Victorian ventilation system of the House of Lords: Its design and evolution 1839-54. Report on study by Dr. Henrik Schoenefeldt, presented to Parliamentary Estate in January 2014.
  • Schoenefeldt, H. (2014). Report on the Historic Ventilation system of the Palace of Westminster's River Front. Report produced by Dr. Henrik Schoenefeldt and presented to the Parliamentary Estates Directorate.


  • Schoenefeldt, H. (2018). Powers of politics, scientific measurement and perception: evaluating the performance of the Houses of Commons'first environmental system, 1852- 54. in: Gillin, E. and Joyce, H. eds. Experiencing Architecture in the Nineteenth Century. London: Bloomsbury. Available at: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/experiencing-architecture-in-the-nineteenth-century-9781350045941/.
  • Schoenefeldt, H. (2016). Reid's legacy. CIBSE Journal (Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers) [Online]. Available at: http://www.cibsejournal.com/.
  • Schoenefeldt, H. (2015). Architecture of Nurturing. Architectural Journal of China.
Showing 20 of 31 total publications in KAR. [See all in KAR]