Job title: Senior Lecturer in Environmental Design

Role: Programme Director, Advanced Sustainable Design - MSc

Tel: +44 (0)131 650 2324


Research: See John Brennan on Edinburgh Research Explorer

Current PhD students

Pablo Jimenez Moreno

Delia A. Murguia Gutierrez

Stuart Cooper

PhD Supervision Topics

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. 

Shahzad, Sally, John Brennan, Dimitris Theodossopoulos, Ben Hughes, and Calautit John. 2017. “A Study Of The Impact Of Individual Thermal Control On User Comfort In The Workplace”. Architectural Science Review 60 (6).
Shahzad, Sally, John Brennan, Dimitris Theodossopoulos, Ben Hughes, and Calautit John. 2016. “Building-Related Symptoms, Energy, And Thermal Control In The Workplace”. Sustainability 8 (4).
Shahzad, Sally, John Brennan, Dimitris Theodossopoulos, Ben Hughes, and John Kalautit. 2015. “Sick Building Syndrome, Energy And Thermal Control”. In A Norwegian Cellular Vs. A British Open Plan Office.
Brennan, John. 2015. “Untouchable Rurality?”. In .
Brennan, John. 2014. “Architecture, Aesthetics And Making A Working Countryside”. In Alterrurality. Arena.
Shahzad, Sally, John Brennan, and Dimitris Theodossopoulos. 2014. “Individual Thermal Control In The Workplace And Changes In Thermal Preferences In A Day”. In Proceedings Of The 8Th Windsor Conference. Network for Comfort and Energy Use in Buildings.
Brennan, John. 2013. “Building Design”. In Innovations For Sustainable Building Design And Refurbishment In Scotland. Springer-Verlag GmbH.
Shahzad, Sally, John Brennan, and Dimitris Theodossopoulos. 2013. “Environmental Control And Sick Building Syndrome; A Comparison Between A Low Carbon Open Plan And A Cellular Plan Workplaces”. In .
Shahzad, Sally, John Brennan, and Dimitris Theodossopoulos. 2013. “Quantitative Vs. Qualitative Methodologies To Investigate Environmental Control In The Workplace: Neutral Thermal Sensation And Thermal Environmental Intention.”. In Plea2013 - 29Th Conference, Sustainable Architecture For A Renewable Future, Munich, Germany 10-12 September 2013.
Brennan, John. 2013. “Pulling Away From The Polite: New Architecture In Old Landscapes”. In Intersections. Horsecross Arts.
Brennan, John. 2012. “The Adaptive City”. In Cities In Transformation. Research & Design. EAAE - ARCC.
Brennan, John. 2012. “Conditioning Coasts”. Architecture Research Quarterly 16 (1).
“New Suburbia”. 2012. East Lothian Passive House.
Brennan, John, and B Satish. 2012. “Sustainable Housing Strategies For The Growing Indian Demographics: Contextual Study Of Mysore, India”. In The Asian Conference On Sustainability, Energy & The Environment. IAFOR : The International Academic Forum.
Satish, B, John Brennan, and Remo Pedreschi. 2011. “Influence Of Affluence On Sustainable Housing In Mysore, India”. Proceedings Of The Institution Of Civil Engineers-Engineering Sustainability 164 (4).
Brennan, John. 2011. “Qualitative And Quantitative Traditions In Sustainable Design”. In Aesthetics Of Sustainable Architecture. 010.
Brennan, John, and D Gleeson. 2011. Preparing For Passivhaus. Preparing For Passivhaus. IES Ltd.
Brennan, John. 2011. “A Place Beyond Where We Are”. Architecture Research Quarterly 14 (04).
“The Whole Life House”. 2010. Scotland's Housing Expo.
Brennan, John. 2010. “Harmonising Middle-Class Aspirations For Low-Carbon Housing: Contextual Study Of Mysore, India”. In Icsaud 2010 : Of Sustainable Architecture And Urban Design. ICSAUD 2010.
Brennan, John, and J. Wilson. 2009. “Sustainable Rural Housing: Perthshire”.
Brennan, John. 2006. “The Use Of Narrative In Contemporary Rural Architecture”. Architecture Research Quarterly.