Edinburgh Research Explorer

Mr. John Brennan

Senior Lecturer

Profile photo

Willingness to take Ph.D. students: Yes

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.

Education/Academic qualification

Master of Arts, University of Edinburgh
Diploma of Architecture, University of Edinburgh
awarded with distinction

Professional Qualifications

Associate of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, ARIAS
UK Architects Registration Board, ARB

Area of Expertise

Research expertiseSustainable Design, Rural Architecture, Housing Design


John Brennan is an academic and practicing architect with 25 years experience of both theorising 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.

John started his professional career with Gaia Architects and was responsible for the design of a series of projects that help to open the field to 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 more resilient settlements. His WholeLife experimental house was built and exhibited as part of Scotland’s Housing Expo in 2010.

John’s uses built work to validate research hypotheses through combining qualitative and quantitative methodologies. His research includes work on 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. He has published in Architecture Research Quarterly, Sustainability and the ICE Journal of Sustainability.  John was recently head of the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture where is work included planning and delivering new postgraduate programmes and a growing international perspective in 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.

Research outputs

  1. Does a neutral thermal sensation determine thermal comfort?

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. ZEMCH, a systematic review

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

  3. Architecture of the Rural Gaze: Redefining building in rural Scotland

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

View all (25) »

Research activities & awards

  1. Sustainable Design of the Built Environment: Research and Practice (Event)

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workEditorial activity

  2. ZEMCH 2018

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

  3. Resilient Borders : Community Planning Workshops

    Activity: OtherTypes of Public engagement and outreach - Work on advisory panels for social community and cultural engagement

View all (8) »

Latest prizes

  1. Scottish Design Award: Best Residential Building

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

  2. Scottish Design Award: Northern Exposure Prize

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

View all (7) »

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