Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am interested in PhD proposals in the fields of: rural design, sustainable housing, building adaptation, theory and aesthetics in sustainable architecture, the relationship between quantitative and qualitative approaches to sustainable design.

Personal profile


John Brennan is an academic and practicing architect with 25 years experience of both researching and delivering sustainable architecture. He established and remains programme director of the University of Edinburgh Masters programme in Advanced Sustainable Design that provides a global perspective on the making of resilient settlements and buildings. He is a Fellow of the Edinburgh Futures Institute and is currently lead for a new interdisciplinary masters for Sustainable Lands and Cities.

John started his professional career with Gaia Architects and was responsible for the design of a series of projects that opened up holistic sustainable design practices in the UK. John remains in practice specialising in sustainable rural design. He worked with the artist James Turrell in realising the Scottish Skyspace.  His buildings have received a range of awards that include the Saltire Society Award for housing and the Scottish Design Awards Northern Exposure prize. John has an interest in adaptability as a means of making stable and more resilient settlements. His WholeLife experimental house was built and exhibited as part of Scotland’s Housing Expo in 2010. John is author of Scotland's Rural Home that explores the social and cultural underpinnings of contemporary housing in the Scottish landscape.

John’s uses built work to validate research hypotheses through combining qualitative and quantitative methodologies. His research includes enquiry into long-term housing adaptability, rural architectures and environmental design in the workplace. In particular, he is interested in how design practice fits into wider social and economic perspectives of sustainable development.  This includes using environmental narratives, cartography and social policy to shape new ideas in how we make resilient settlements. John researches how sustainable architecture and design can adapt to the needs and aspirations of communities. He is the Scotland lead in the AHRC funded Community Consulation and Quality of Life project and established a pilot urban room in Edinburgh to understand how engagement and agency can be embedded in planning and development processes. 

John was head of the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture where his work included planning and delivering new postgraduate programmes and enhancing its international profile for learning, teaching and research.

John has been External Examiner at the University of Nottingham, University of Sheffield, and the Centre for Alternative Technology Graduate School. He is a chartered member of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Education/Academic qualification

Architecture, Diploma of Architecture, University of Edinburgh

Award Date: 1 Jan 1988

Master of Arts, University of Edinburgh

Award Date: 1 Jan 1986

External positions

Partner, Brennan and Wilson Architects


  • NA Architecture
  • sustainable
  • architecture
  • rural
  • housing
  • adaptability


Dive into the research topics where John Brennan is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or