Duncan Baker-Brown

Duncan Baker-Brown

arts research University of Brighton

Scholarly biography and interests

In practice since 1983, Baker-Brown studied part-time while working for architectural practices in London. From 1991 - 1993 he worked in London for Rick Mather Architects on award winning ‘low energy’ student accommodation blocks for the University of East Anglia and Keble College, Oxford. While working for RMA Baker-Brown collaborated with Ian McKay on the winning scheme for the RIBA ‘House of the Future’ competition. He was responsible for delivering the built project in 1994. This unique experience involved the specification and design of a building that adhered to an extremely low energy sustainable brief. The experience gained with Futurehouse and at RMA ensured that BBM had the means and ability to deliver genuinely sustainable buildings such as the award-winning Priory Neighbourhood Centre in Hastings and Romney Warren Visitors Centre.

Together with his partner Ian McKay, Baker-Brown ran the MA in Sustainable Development at The University of East London’s School of Architecture. Baker-Brown has also taught at the School of Architecture & Design at the University of Brighton since 1994 where Baker-Brown and his BBM colleagues run a post-graduate design Studio. The research and learning that manifests from this academic work has been necessary to test emerging ideas from the practices investigations through office based and student design projects. He lectures widely on issues relating to Sustainable Development in the Construction Industry.

Baker-Brown is particularly interested in developing an new architectural language borne out of an aspiration towards sustainable development, merging with issues of how we live our lives today, as well as engaging with a sites ‘locale’, ie. creating a new vernacular architecture responding to the ‘nature’ of the place as well as to a brief and programme.

He has successfully negotiated Technology Strategy Board (TSB)-sponsored 'Retrofit the Future projects' in partnership with Prof Andrew Miller, ply Tow Piers and another housing Association, plus Mischa Hewitt of the Low Carbon Trust. And is a Design adviser to the West Sussex Design Commission.

Is it possible to develop contemporary buildings in an environmentally benign manner? Is it viable economically and aesthetically? And could this way of working, using local materials and skills, be the beginning of a new local architectural identity?

Duncan Baker-Brown has focused on developing architecture that strives to be environmentally benign and reduces dependence on fossil fuels. The development of what he believes to be a new vernacular has, to a great extent, been an unforeseen but delightful side effect.

Through his practise Baker-Brown has focused on projects that demonstrate ways of translating the local, natural supply chain of materials from the landscape into architectural form. This research focus manifests itself in built architectural projects, writings, supervision of MA’s at The University’s of Brighton and East London, as well as a touring exhibition of the work of BBM entitled ‘Built Ecologies: Translating landscape into architecture’.

Architectural projects have been delivered using locally sourced, non-toxic, organic materials to ensure healthy buildings with small ‘carbon/ ecological footprints’. A number of the materials specified by BBM were used for the first time in the construction industry. Materials such as Sweet Chestnut Glue-Lam beams and cladding.

Duncan Baker-Brown is also interested in developing collaborative working methods. Over the last three years his practise has delivered over 40 workshops in primary and secondary schools considering issues around three dimensional design, the relationship between art and architecture (in partnership with Artists from Tate Modern’s Education Dept.), and sustainable design. This work has profoundly affected the working methods of his practise. 

Research Activity 

Number of items: 3.

Baker-Brown, Duncan (2013) The Brighton Waste House [Design]

Baker-Brown, Duncan (2011) The Nook [Design]

Baker-Brown, Duncan (2005) St Pancras School DfES Innovation Unit.

This list was generated on Fri Apr 24 14:22:48 2015 BST.

Conferences, lectures and seminars 


  • Sussex Training Consortium (STC) (http://www.sussextrainingconsortium.org.uk/article/5794/About-Us)have invited Baker-Brown to present two talks in one afternoon on University of Brighton premises (Mithras House) 
  • Sustainability. A waste of space?‘How to turn linear metabolisms into circular ones. Keynote address at this evening of provocative and progressive thinking facilitated by Blond Ideas Group - a Global Innovation agency with a reputation for challenging the status quo http://www.sustainabilityawasteofspace.uk 
  • Planners In Sussex Event held at The Brighton Waste House presented to over 30 Senior Planning Officers Building the Brighton Waste House


  • 'There’s no such thing as waste’, ‘Negotiating The Green Deal', Green Register Brighton.


  • ‘Becoming an Eco Refurbisher’, London, workshops for practitioners/contractors/ clients who have interest in eco refurbishment. 
  • 'Retread - Practical ways to deliver sustainable development’ at Ecobuild at Earles Court, and National College for Leadership of Schools & Children's Services in Harrogate 
  • ‘Becoming an Eco Refurbisher’, Manchester, London, workshops for practitioners/contractors/ clients who have interest in eco refurbishment
  • Green Architecture Day organised by The Brighton Permaculture Trust (Sponsored by Bioregional Quintain). Discussed issues/ themes that influence the practice of sustainable design, followed up with case studies of urban and architectural solutions


  • ‘How to make non-domestic building green’, Chair. Organised by RIBA South East & The Low Carbon Trust. Aimed at practitioners, registered social landlords, local authority councillors and officers. Thistle Hotel Brighton
  • ‘Green Architecture Day’ Keynote address. Grand Parade in Sallis Benney Theatre. Organised by Brighton Permaculture Trust & Brighton & Hove City Council, discussed principles behind the ideas of reducing the ecological footprint of construction projects. See: www.brightonpermaculture.co.uk/gad/GAD09talks.html for list of speakers.
  • National College for School Leadership (NCSL) ‘NCSL BSF Leadership Programme Phase Three’ Workshop considering low energy design solutions for new and existing buildings, London.
  • National College for School Leadership (NCSL) ‘NCSL BSF Leadership Programme Phase Three’ Conference. Keynote speech focused on our collective need to reduce consumption; to consider ways we can reduce our ecological footprint from that of a ‘four society to that of a single planet society, Stratford upon Avon.
  • ‘Working with Indigenous materials’ and ‘Solar Thermal In Practice’, ECOBUILD 2009, Earle’s Court, London
  • 'Retread' 'What's Next for Sustainability?' Paper that considered ways in which individuals or groups can upgrade our existing building stock to reduce energy consumption and meet new government targets of reducing CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050 Prepared by CABE and The Kent Architecture Centre. Held in The New Library and the Corn Exchange Rochester,Chaired by The Earl of Lytton and Chris Lamb of The Kent Architecture Centre.


  • ‘Sustainable Construction: Are we there yet?’ The National College for School Leadership (NCSL). Lecture/ workshop to head teachers, school governors, Novotel West London. 
  • ‘Green Retrofit for Housing’ Organised by RIBA South East & The Low Carbon Trust. DBB chaired the conference for the day. Aimed at practitioners, registered social landlords, local authority councillors and officers. 
  • ‘Sustainable Construction: Are we there yet?’ Prepared by The Green Register & RIBA and held at The HG Wells Centre Woking.Lecture focusing on a number of built architectural case studies from the last 15 years. The presentation considered how the practice of low carbon construction had evolved over the last 20 years or so. 


  • 'Sustainable Design 2006', 5 December, Earls Court Exhibition Centre, London 
  • 'Ecobuild Building a Sustainable Future', 22 - 23 February, Earls Court Exhibition Centre, London 
  • 'Creating Sustainable Design', No.4 Hamilton Place, London W1.
  • ‘Building Schools for the Future', organised by DfES, QEII Hall, Westminster
  • The Department of Children, Schools and Families (formerly DfES) will be publishing an interactive DVD describing the design and construction process.

Books - work featured in the following publications


  • Eco-House by Barbara Linz published by H.F.Ullmann (Tandem VerlagGmbH) 2009, ISBN: 978-3-8331-5465-2. 'Pinwell House' pp 102-105. In German, English and French
  • Our Space Published by Willingdon Community School and printed by Generation Press, 2009. ISBN: 973-3-8331-5465-2. Records a project to build a pavilion at Willingdon Community School near Eastbourne with Sculptor Will Nash


  • ‘The Bridge Community Centre Hastings’ in Sustainable Architecture, p.144-145 Edited by David Turrent Published by RIBA Publishing. ISBN 978 -1-85946-257-7.


  • 'Sparrowhouse' featured in Wood Houses by Ruth Slavid, Abbeville press.



  • ‘New Arts + Science Building for Lewes School’, Green Building Transitional Edition Volume 17, No.1 Summer p.8 ISSN 1-357-759X.


  • p.70-74 ‘New Art + Science Wing for St.Pancras School’ featured in School Building February/March. Issue 14 ISSN 1-745-6703.


  • 'Built Ecologies: Translating landscape into architecture'. Touring exhibition of BBM’s work.


  • Weald and Downland Museum, Singleton, June
  • RIBA, HQ London March/April


  • Jubilee Library Brighton, November
  • Faculty of Arts & Architecture, Brighton, October
  • Stary Gallery, Lewes, June