Job title: Programme Director, Advanced Sustainable Design - MSc and Senior Lecturer, Environmental Design

Tel: +44 (0)131 650 2324


Research outputs: John Brennan on Edinburgh Research Explorer

John Brennan is an architect who conducts research informed practice primarily in rural and sustainable contexts. He has 20 years experience in sustainable design, working with Gaia Architects before setting up his own practice. He collaborated on a range of buildings that helped establish what we now call ecological design. John is partner in Brennan and Wilson Architects, an award winning practice based in East Lothian. He was Head of the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA) from 2012 to 2015.

John teaches sustainable and environmental design to undergraduates and postgraduates.  He is director of MSc programmes in Advanced Sustainable Design and explores the field through design practice rather than relying solely on technical solutions. His teaching is research oriented and questions preconceptions of what constitutes sustainable design. He works with themes such as counter-intuition, infrastructure, resilience and adaptability.

John has researched rural regeneration and countryside narratives, with work published ARQ. He is active in the recently formed EAAE Rurality Network. His practice informs these preoccupations. Culorrin House tested and validates his theoretical work and won the Scottish Design Awards Northern Exposure Prize and gaining a Saltire Award for Housing in 2005.

Adaptability and long term resilience is a key aspect of emerging sustainability discourses. John discusses this in the book Aesthetics of Sustainable Architecture. It was at the heart of his practice’s entry for Scotland’s Housing Expo. The WholeLife house asks the research question, how to we embed resilience in the suburban home? The completed building won the Scottish Design Awards House of the Year Prize in 2011. 

Quantitative and Qualitative traditions in sustainable design are key research interests, examined through passive house typologies. The practice’s New Suburbia home is built to passive house standards and won the Scottish Homes Award House of the Year in 2013. It reflects an interest in innovating in markets that traditionally do not privilege rigorous design and building performance.

 John has been external examiner at the Universities of Nottingham and Sheffield and reviews submissions for a wide range of academic journals. 

Current PhD students