#008 – The future of Architecture, an Open Conversation with Duncan Baker-Brown

by Hugo Taillandier

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Today’s conversation is with the Architect Duncan Baker-Brown. Through his story as an architect, we are exploring different solutions to reduce carbon emission, how to reuse waste material to erect new buildings, the importance of retrofitting existing buildings and how we can learn through history to design and build a better future.


Duncan Baker-Brown

Duncan is a practicing architect, academic and environmental activist. Author of ‘The Re-Use Atlas: a designer’s guide towards a circular economy’, he has practised, researched, and taught around issues of sustainable development and closed-looped systems for more than 25 years. He recently founded BakerBrown, an architectural practice and consultancy created to address the huge demands presented by the climate and ecological emergency as well as the challenges of designing in a post-COVID world. Over the years Duncan’s practices have won numerous accolades including RIBA National Awards and a special award from The Stephen Lawrence Prize for the Brighton Waste House – the prize money has since been used to set up a student prize for circular, closed loop design at the University of Brighton where Duncan teaches.

Duncan has worked on projects as diverse as ‘The Greenwich Millennium Village‘ in London, the RIBA’s ‘House of the Future’, the multi-award-winning ‘Brighton Waste House’ and recently he designed a new building for Glyndebourne Opera that will be constructed from waste flows and organic materials grown on site. Duncan is currently working on schemes for Net-Zero Carbon social housing with Brighton & Hove District Council, where he has recently lead on the drafting of their soon to be published Circular Economy Route Map.

Duncan is currently the Principal Investigator for two EU Interreg research programmes focussing on the re-use of construction waste, building deconstruction and re-construction. He is curating a summer school for August 2021 that will be based in Brighton. It will ask teams of students from across Northern Europe to focus on re-working material from de-constructed buildings in the neighbourhood. Called the ‘School of Re-construction’, Duncan is working on this project with Rotor DC from Brussels, Bellastock from Paris, together with Brighton & Hove City Council.

Duncan is an experienced public speaker. He also author’s academic papers, curate’s exhibitions and symposia, and host’s workshops in the UK, Europe and on occasion further afield. These events test ideas relating the important role the built environment has in contributing positively towards the existential challenge the Climate and Ecological Emergency present all sections of society, especially the disenfranchised.

The future of Architecture, an Open Conversation with Duncan Baker-Brown (008)


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Get in touch with Duncan: LinkedIn | Instagram | Website

The Re-Use Atlas
University of Brighton
Greenwich Millennium Village
Glyndebourne Opera
The school of re-Construction
Rotor Deconstruction

Articles and Videos
Architects have declared, but what do we do next?
100 Day Studio: Duncan Baker Brown – ‘Mine The Anthropocene: A Case For Alternative Design’
J100 Awards Keynote speech 2019 by Duncan Baker-Brown
Can Architecture Matter?: Duncan Baker-Brown at TEDxBrighton
Designers Can Save Planet Earth! | Duncan Baker Brown
Duncan Baker-Brown: Approaches to Design


Architects Declare


  • Introduction about Duncan [01:34]
  • Duncan’s path to sustainable architecture [02:25]
  • Is sustainability a trend? [11:46]
  • Why retrofit is not famous? [15:47]
  • Opportunities of retrofitting buildings [19:00]
  • Challenges of retrofit [21:26]
  • COP26 and it’s opportunities [24:44]
  • Biodiversity in the UK: learning from history [28:24]
  • City and Countryside, two different reality [31:49]
  • How to change our practice for the best? [34:00]
  • COVID Pandemic, an opportunity for the Construction Industry [38:26]
  • The Re-Use Atlas & The Waste House Project [40:25]
  • Last word of faith from Duncan [46:47]

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