Kent School of Architecture


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Dr Henrik Schoenefeldt

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

Architecture, W3 W3 Eliot College

Senior Lecturer in Sustainable Architecture (US: Associate Professor)
AHRC Leadership Fellow
Principal Investigator of ‘Between Heritage and Sustainabiliy – Restoring the Palace of Westminster’s nineteenth-century ventilation system’

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.

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Schoenefeldt, Henrik, The Lost (first) Chamber of the House of Commons, AA Files, 72 (June 2016), pp. 161-173

Schoenefeldt, Henrik, Architectural and scientific principles in the design of the Houses of Parliament, in New Directions in Gothic Revival Studies (Leuven: Leuven University Press, KADOC-Artes Series, 2016)

Schoenefeldt, Henrik, "And After that..." RIBA Journal, January 2016, pp. 51-52.

Schoenefeldt, Henrik, Reid's Short-lived ventilation system for the Permanent House of Commons, Studies in the History of Construction (Cambridge: CHS, 2015), pp. 167-82.

Schoenefeldt, Henrik, 'The Temporary Houses of Parliament and David Boswell Reid’s architecture of experimentation', Architectural History, 57-2014, pp. 175-215

Schoenefeldt, Henrik, "Science Revolution",  in Denna Jones (ed.), Architecture – The Whole Story (Thames & Hudson, 2014)

Schoenefeldt, Henrik, "Creating the right internal climate for the Crystal Palace", Journal of Engineering History and Heritage, 165-3 (August 2012) pp.197-207.

Schoenefeldt, Henrik, "Adapting glasshouses for human use – Environmental experimentation in Paxton’s designs for 1851 Great Exhibition Building and the Crystal Palace, Sydenham" Architectural History, 54-2011, 233-73.

Schoenefeldt, Henrik, "The use of Scientific experimentation in developing the glazing for the Palm House at Kew", Construction History, 26-2011 pp.19-39.

Schoenefeldt, Henrik, "The Crystal Palace - Environmentally Considered" Architectural Research Quarterly, 12 1/3 (2008) pp. 283-94



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Module Code Module Title Information
AR529 Adapt & Extend
  • Module Convenor, Lecturer & Studio Tutor
AR828 Rediscovery - Understanding Historical Buildings and past environmental technologies
  • Module Convenor, Lecturer & Supervisor
AR546 Technology and Environment
  • Module Convenor, Lecturer
AR547 Technology 5
  • Module Convenor, Lecturer and Tutor
AR813 From the idea of a City to Philosophies of Urban Design
  • Lecturer


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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 nineteenth 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.

Research Projects



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The transformation of the Horticultural Glasshouse prototype for Human Habitation

Dr. Henrik Schoenefeldt’s doctoral research project, University of Cambridge

September 2007- July 2011

PhD Supervisor: Professor Alan Short, Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge.

This project, conducted by Dr. Schoenefeldt at the University of Cambridge between 2007 and 2011, is the first study to investigate environmental experimentation as an important link between glasshouse horticulture and Joseph Paxton’s designs for the 1851 Great Exhibition Building at Hyde Park and the Crystal Palace in Sydenham. It provides detailed insights into how and why the scientific methods developed for the design, testing and refinement of environmental solutions in glasshouses, were also critical in making a glass structure suitable for exhibitions. The research has uncovered that the Great Exhibition Building represented a pioneering attempt to adopt a glasshouse specifically for human occupation and the preservation and display of artefacts, rather than the horticultural purposes for which the building type was originally developed. Past research into its design has focused on the role of the engineers and contractors in addressing questions of structure and building production, but this thesis argues that the Exhibition Building was the outcome of a cross-disciplinary effort, in which the skills of glasshouse designers in creating the right internal climate were as critical as those of the structural engineers or architects. The engineers and architects depended on the glasshouse designer Paxton for his specialist knowledge and experience with the detailing of glass envelopes and with managing the environmental conditions inside glass structures. The premise behind this research is that the environmental design agenda underlying Paxton’s designs for Hyde Park and Sydenham cannot be fully understood without studying its origin in an environmental design tradition that developed in the context of glasshouse horticulture. Studies into the design of the Palm House at Kew and Paxton’s earlier glasshouse experiments, which directly influenced the environmental strategies adopted at Hyde Park and Sydenham, revealed that environmental experimentation played a significant role in the design of glasshouses and their technical evolution. The research is based on in-depth historical case studies of Paxton’s glasshouse experiments between 1828 and 1850, the Palm House at Kew (1844-48), the 1851 Great Exhibition building (1850-51) and the Crystal Palace at Sydenham (1852-54). The main objectives of the case studies were:

1. To gain a detailed understanding of the design development process, focusing on the role of scientific experimentation and the collaboration between architects, engineers, scientist and glasshouse designers.

2. To conduct an in-depth study of the building’s design and the underlying environmental design concepts and objectives.

3. To reconstruct the post-occupancy history of the building, using historic evidence such as historic data, newspaper commentaries, eyewitness accounts and scientific reports.

4. To produce an in-depth analysis of the building’s actual environmental performance, using the historic evidence.

To achieve these objectives it was not only necessary to thoroughly reconstruct and analyse the building anatomy but also to make detailed inquiries into the design development and post-occupancy phases in the history of each building.

Fig. 1: Diagram showing the stages in the analysis of each building. (author’s own drawing)

His previous architectural training and the MPhil in environmental design was very important in this historical study since it provided me with the technical understanding required to analyse important technical and scientific aspects that are frequently neglected by architectural historians. The research demonstrated how historical research, combined with a detailed technical analysis, can be used to gain an understanding of historic buildings from an environmental perspective. This approach to the study of historic buildings attracted much interest from historians as well as architects, building scientists and engineers. The research has been presented, among others, at the Passive Low Energy Architecture conference, Institute of Historical Research, Institution of Structural Engineers, Royal Institute of Architecture and the Prince’s Foundation. The research is based largely on primary source material held in various archives and libraries in London, Kew, Chatsworth, Oxford and Cambridge. This material included, among others, scientific reports, temperature measurements, eyewitness accounts and commentaries in technical journals, which record the scientific methods used to evaluate environmental performance and provide detailed insights into the actual environmental conditions inside these buildings. These sources revealed, for instance, that the temperatures inside the Hyde Park structure were systematically recorded throughout the entire period of the Exhibition.


Fig. 2: Chart of daily maximum, minimum and average temperatures measured inside and outside the Great Exhibition Building between May and October 1851, including timeline of the interventions made to improve the ventilation. (graph compiled by author, using historic data published in the First Report of the Commissioners for the Great Exhibition (London: HMSO, 1852) and numerous newspaper and journal articles)


Fig.3. Sample of temperature measurements printed in nineteenth century newspapers (Source: Morning Chronicle, 1 August 1851, p. 5)


 ‘The heat of the weather, great as it was outside of the building, was still more oppressive within, and, in consequent of the inconvenience experienced, we understand that it determined to remove the inside glazing at the eastern and western entrances, and to endeavour in this way to secure a refreshing thorough draught from end to end of the interior. It will be an immense relief to visitors if successfully carried out.’

‘The Great Exhibition’, The Times, 27 June 1851, p. 5.

‘On Saturday the oppressive heat proved too great even for the attraction of the Crystal Palace, and since it was opened we have hardly seen so small an attendance there. In vain did ladies appear in the thinnest muslin dresses, and gentleman walk about with their hats in their hands. The wind would not blow in such a direction as to secure a thorough draft, and in the desperate effort to find relief from their suffering some clustered around the fountains, others saturated themselves with filtered water, and many spend the greater part of the afternoon in eating ices and drinking lemonade and soda-water. Even our Tunisian friends, accustomed as they are to an African sun, owned the power of our British “Sol,” and might be observed courting the shade of their bazaar like fittings, and fanning themselves slowly with little implements for that purpose included in their interesting collection.’

‘The Great Exhibition’, The Times, 30 June 1851, p. 5.

Fig. 4. Sample of eyewitness accounts printed in nineteenth century newspapers

At the same time the internal atmosphere and its effect on the physical and mental conditions of visitors and staff was subject of detailed observations. They also provide critical insights into the difficulties with managing the internal climate, which involved extensive experiments with natural ventilation.

Fig. 5: South Elevation (left) and East Elevation of the 1851 Great Exhibition Building, Hyde Park, showing the ventilators that were retrofitted during the Exhibition to prevent overheating. (Source: London Metropolitan Archives, LMA/4426/02/024, circles added by author)


The case studies were not only chosen to study the selected buildings in great detail but also to explore the process by which the horticultural glasshouse was transformed into a building for human occupation, first at Hyde Park and second at Sydenham. The research revealed that the full significance of environmental experimentation in the history of architecture can only be understood if the post-occupancy studies and their impact on the next generation of buildings are investigated. Existing histories of environment design tend to catalogue different systems, without analysing their performance and evolution. However, all three case studies have shown that the lessons learned from the ‘failed’ buildings were very important to uncover the motivations and concerns driving the technological advances in architecture. Environmental experimentation represented an important link between the Hyde Park and Sydenham buildings.

Fig. 6: Timeline showing the phases in Paxton’s experimentation with glass structures. (author’s own drawing)

Paxton used the Crystal Palace to continue the experiments started at Hyde Park. Aside from critically re-appraising the original environmental strategy, his involvement at Sydenham allowed Paxton to substantially modify the original design, first to overcome the problems encountered during the Exhibition and second to adopt it for winter use. (figs. 7-9)

Fig. 7: Axonometric projection of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham (1852-54). (author’s own drawing)

This had not been attempted at Hyde Park as the original building was only to be used between May and October 1851. Historical evidence, covering the period between 1854 and 1936, also allowed a thorough analysis of the performance of the Sydenham Crystal Palace under winter and summer conditions. It showed that maintaining comfortable conditions inside large glass enclosures remained a challenge. In order to adapt the Palace as a venue for major cultural events, such as the Handel Festivals, the Crystal Palace Company experimented with various heating, shading and ventilation arrangements until its destruction in 1936. These and the other post-occupancy studies demonstrate the highly experimental nature of nineteenth century glass architecture and show the extent to which the challenge of managing the climate inside glass structures occupied the minds of the designers as well as those operating them. This project is the first study to thoroughly investigate the environmental behaviour of glass buildings in the mid-nineteenth century and provides critical insights into the possibilities and limitations of a glass architecture based on largely passive environmental principles.

Key publications on the Crystal Palace are:

Schoenefeldt, Henrik, `The Crystal Palace - Environmentally Considered‘ Architectural Research Quarterly, 12 1/3 (2008) pp. 283-94

Schoenefeldt, Henrik, ‘Adapting glasshouses for human use – Environmental experimentation in Paxton’s designs for 1851 Great Exhibition Building and the Crystal Palace, Sydenham’ Architectural History, 54-2011, 233-73.

Schoenefeldt, Henrik, ‘Creating the right internal climate for the Crystal Palace’, Journal of Engineering History and Heritage, 165-3(August 2012), pp. 197-207

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‘Interrogating the technical, economic and cultural challenges of delivering the PassivHaus standard in the UK’

Duration: June 2013 to July 2014

Principal Investigator: Dr. Henrik Schoenefeldt

Researchers: Team of 13 MArch students (5th year) and BArch (3rd year), under the supervision of the principal investigator.

Download the project brief here.

Project Outline:

‘…. it would be folly to directly copy details, especially those for insulation, windows and ventilation from the Central European example to other parts of the world. Instead, the details should be found to suit the climate and geographic conditions to develop a Passive House solution of each location. The following boundary conditions of each region must especially be considered:
· The local building traditions
· The specific climatic conditions’

Quote from a lecture given by Wolfgang Feist ‘First Steps: What Can be a Passive House in Your Region with Your Climate?’
The British government has committed to an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 and has identified increased energy efficiency of new and existing buildings as a central part of a strategy for achieving these objectives. In recent years, this has provided architects, engineers, contractors and manufacturers with the impetus to develop an increasing interest in the German PassivHaus standard. However, compared to Germany and Austria, where extensive experience had been accumulated with the design and construction over the past 25 years, experience with designing and delivering PassivHaus standard buildings in the UK is still comparatively limited. The first certified PassivHaus in the UK has been completed in 2009 and the pioneering buildings completed in the past 4 years provide critical insights into the process by which the PassivHaus is gradually been adapted to the UK context. Various studies have highlighted the challenges of applying the PassivHaus principles, which have originally been conceived and developed for buildings in the continental climates of central Europe, to the design of buildings in the UK’s temperate climate. However, this process of adaptation cannot be fully understood through the study of technical and climatic aspects alone, but also requires research into the economic, educational and cultural barriers. The implications of skills and education, building traditions and technologies are particular important considerations. At moment, for instance, architects and contractors in the UK rely extensively on imported technologies to achieve the PH standard, and various PassivHaus projects have been delayed and compromised due to the insufficient skills and technical understanding in the construction workforce. The importance of these issues has also been stressed by Wolfgang Feist in his paper What can be a Passive House in Your Region with Your Climate? He argues that adaptation of the PassivHaus standard in different parts of the world cannot be achieved by the copying of Central European solutions, but requires the development of new technical solutions that take into account the specific economic contexts, skills, materials and building traditions. Yet, these challenges have also provided the impetus for technical innovation, research and skills within the UK. Some of the questions to be addressed in this project are:
· How were the PassivHaus principles adopted to meet the specific English context?
· How far was the delivery of the projects dependent on imported and skills and technologies?
· Have any attempts been made to embrace English building traditions, materials, technologies? How successful were these and what were the difficulties encountered?

Aims and objectives:

This project aims to interrogate the technical, economic and cultural challenges associated with implementing the PassivHaus standard in buildings in the UK through 13 detailed case studies. The first part of the study is a review of the existing literature on the application of PassivHaus principles to buildings in the UK, which is followed by thirteen selected case studies in England. Each case study will involve detailed explorations of the executed design and the environmental and construction technologies deployed. This is followed by semi-structured interviews with the contractors, clients and architects involved in each scheme. In addition to gaining insights into the design process, the objective of these interviews is to gain critical insights into the experiences of architects, contractors and engineers with the design and construction process, with a particular focus on the challenges encountered during the procurement and construction stages in each of these projects. The case are:

1. Hadlow College’s Rural Regeneration Centre, Tonbridge, Eurobuild
2. Crossway House, Staplehurst, Richard Hawkes Architects
3. Centre for Disability Studies, Rocheford, Simmonds Mills Architects
4. Hastoe Housing Association Passivhaus Development, Wimbish, Parsons & Whittley
5. Howe Park PassivHaus, Milton Keynes, Eco Design Consultants
6. Camden PassivHaus, London, bere:architects
7. 100 Princedale Road, London, Princedale
8. Montgomery Primary School, Exeter, NPS group
9. Grove Cottage, Hereford, Simmonds.Mills Architects
10. Grey Lyn PassivHaus, Faversham, Conkers Conservation
11. Underhill House, Chipping Norton, Helen Seymour Smith Architects
12. Totnes PassivHaus, Totnes, Janet Cotterell
13. Denby Dale, near Huddersfield, Derrie O’Sullivan

Each of these case studies focuses on three main areas.

Part I comprises a detailed study of the executed design and the underlying concepts and objectives. It will cover the following key areas: (a) architectural design (b) construction systems, materials and details (c) environmental technologies and (c) environmental control strategies.

Part II focuses on the design, construction and procurements process. The process is important to gain a critical understanding of the specific approaches used by architects, contractors and clients to adopting the PassivHaus standard in the design, detailing and construction of buildings in the UK. The focus is on the design and technical objectives, methods and tools deployed in the design process and construction stages. The objective is to gain insights into the specific challenges encountered at all stages of the project. This part of the research will be based primarily on interviews with clients, contractors, engineers and the architects of the project.

Part III is an environmental post-occupancy study, which will be based on interviews with building users and the collection and analysis of measured data of the indoor climate and energy consumption. This data will be used to evaluate the actual environmental performance of the building compared to the predicted performance, both from the point of energy efficiency, thermal comfort and air quality.

Bridging the gap between practice, research and teaching

The project also engages with issues raised in the latest report of the Standing Conference of the Heads of School of Architecture, which has highlighted that teaching, research and practice suffer from too much separation. One of the key objectives of the project was to create a bridge the gap between academic research, architectural practice (and the construction industry more widely) and university-based teaching. This project provides a potential model, by fostering collaboration between academic researchers, students and industry partners. Since the start of the project in July 2013 several workshops and project reviews, bringing together the research students, university-based researchers and practitioners in industry, have been held. The project has received direct financial support and/or in-kind support from:

Richard Hawkes architects
James Anwyl, Director of Eurobuild
Doug Smith, Principal Director at Tp Bennett
Patrick Osborne, Lee Evans Partnership
Philipp Proffit, Director of Princedale Homes
The PassivHaus Trust: Jon Bootland, chief executive.

The findings will be disseminated through conference presentations, journal articles and a peer reviewed eBook.

Post-occupancy study of No.5 Stories Mews, Camberwell

The research has also led to a new research collaborations with the Architect Richard Dudzicki Associates (RDA), involving an two year environmental performance study of No. 5 Stories Mews, which was certified in 2013. No. 5 Stories Mews is designed as a flexible 3-bedroom house with an artist studio. The project is co-ordinated by Dr. Henrik Schoenefeldt. A PhD student and students from the MSc Architecture and Sustainable Environment are directly involved in the user interviews and data collection and analysis. A three-month pilot of the monitoring was started in mid-February 2014 with the aim of gathering some initial data on air quality, indoor climate, energy consumption and user satisfaction. The objective of this post-occupancy study is to develop a comprehensive understanding of energy consumption, the indoor climate and air quality and how these are affected by changes in user-behaviour, weather and interior activities. The study covers three main areas, which are (a) energy consumptions, (b) occupant behaviour and satisfaction and (c) indoor climate and air quality. It is based on a methodology developed by Dr. Schoenefeldt as part of his research at the Universities of Cambridge and Kent, which integrates quantitative, qualitative as well as participatory research methods. These include environmental monitoring, electricity metering, interviews, questionnaire-based survey and focus groups. The project has been shortlisted for this year’s green build awards and an outline of this post-occupancy, produced by Dr. Schoenefeldt, has been included in the submission. Stories Mews will be used to test and refine this methodology, which is to provide a model for the post-occupancy evaluation of RDA’s forthcoming PassivHaus projects. The press release by the architects.


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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.


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Inquiries into a new model for teaching environmental design in architecture

August 2012 – September 2013,

Funder: Higher Education Academy

As a cross-disciplinary field, architecture requires educators to introduce students to the specific bodies of knowledge and working methods associated with different disciplines. Due to the strong focus on design in architecture schools, educators also have to demonstrate how these working methods can be deployed in the context of studio projects. Various studies have shown that these issues are particular pronounced in the teaching of scientific and technical subjects, such as environmental design. Educationist such as Alan Levy, propose to address this issue through a teaching model in which all technical teaching is delivered within the architectural studio, but this research revealed that this model poses some major pedagogical challenges in practice. Although strong in promoting integrating design thinking within the studio, it did not achieve the same level technical rigor as the traditional model. An alternative model, the second studio, was introduced by Edward Allen, comprising a technically focused studio, running in parallel to the traditional design studio. This was very successful in getting students to participate in technical and environmental design investigations over the course of a whole term, but it did not sufficiently address the challenges of integrating technical studies into their architectural design projects. The first phase of the project involved interviews with students and educators of environmental design at six schools of architecture in England, which yielded critical insights into some of the issues with achieving the pedagogical objectives of integrated studio models in practice. Based on the findings of the first phase, a new studio model, the 2-plus-1 studio, was developed to reconcile the pedagogical principles underlying the Total Studio and Second studio. The objective was to encourage students to think ‘technically’, ‘environmentally’ and ‘architecturally’ as an integral part of architectural design, but at the same time maintain the focus and rigorous of technical inquiries. The final phase focused on the implementation and critical review of the new studio model within a second year module at the University of Kent in Spring 2013. In the review a combination of feedback sessions, questionnaires and follow-up interviews was used to evaluate this studio model from a student perspective, addressing practical as well as broader pedagogical questions. A report on the project can be found below:

A Preliminary Review of the new studio model piloted in Spring 2013

From October 2014:

Interrogating the pedagogical foundations for research-based design practice in schools of architecture.

The HEA project (2012-13) has uncovered a series of fundamental pedagogical questions, some of which are to be explored further in the upcoming two years. The main question to be addressed is the relationship between research and design in the architectural curriculum. In addition to the tendency of research in design-based architecture programmes to lack academic rigor and depth, the challenge is the effective integration of research into the architectural design process. This problem has been highlighted, among others, by the Royal Academy of Engineering, the RIBA and the UK Architectural Education Review Group. The focus of the research in 2014 will focus on this relationship from a pedagogical perspective and to develop a programme for research-based design practice to be introduced in the 5th year. Students will be tasked with integrating research and methods of technical analysis into their design projects. Numerous studies have described architectural design as a mode of reflective learning, which has the potential of fostering in-depth and critical investigations. In practice, however, the depth of the investigations students engage in while designing is significantly compromised due to the absence of a developed culture of research-based learning within the architectural studio.  The premise is that research has the potential of enhancing reflective learning by providing a means to acquiring the specific knowledge required to identify, understand and resolve design problems. The project aim is to achieve a better integration of design and research-based learning, with a particular focus on the role of research in the resolution of the technical areas of design. The first part comprises a review of pedagogical practices in architectural education regarding the use of research in the design process. This will involve interviews with educators, students and practitioners in selected practices and architecture schools, which will inform the development of a research-based design studio, to be implemented and critically reviewed at the Kent School of Architecture.

Bridging the gap between practice, research and teaching

Last year’s pedagogical research project has also lead to the development of a new research project on Passivhaus Design in the UK. One of the key objectives of the project was to bridge the gap between academic research, architectural practice (and the industry more widely) and university-based teaching. It engages with issues raised in the latest report of the Standing Conference of the Heads of School of Architecture, which has highlighted that teaching, research and practice suffer from too much separation. This project provides a potential model, by fostering collaboration between academic researchers, students and industry partners. The project has received direct financial support and/or in-kind support from Richard Hawkes architects, James Anwyl, Director of Eurobuild, Doug Smith, Principal Director at Tp Bennett, Patrick Osborne, Lee Evans Partnership, Philipp Proffit, Director of Princedale Homes. Jon Bootland, chief executive of the Passivhaus Trust is also supporting the project. A workshop, bringing together the students, academic researchers and industry partners was held in July 2013,which was followed by a first project review in October.


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Last Updated: 13/07/2016