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Department of Architecture



Minna Sunikka-Blank is Professor of Architecture and Environment Policy.

She is interested in the role of mass housing in sustainable development: the transition from informal to formal in housing and energy infrastructure. Her research explores the intersections of domestic energy transitions, housing and gender. AHRC Research Network Filming Energy (FERN) project used participatory film-making to understand women's lived expereince in low-income housing in India and South Africa. AHRC IAA project Community Engagement Workshops on Energy and Housing in Nairobi looks at clean cooking and energy transitions in informal settlements from intersectional perspective. At the core of the project is collaboration with 'non-traditional' research partners: NGOs and policy makers.

Professor Sunikka-Blank co-convenes the inter-disciplinary Global Energy Nexus in Urban Settlements/GENUS research group across Geography, Engineering, Architecture and Judge Business School. At the Department she co-leads Behaviour and Building Performance/BBP group with international research students.

Before coming to Cambridge she worked on environmental impact assessment projects and research in Finland and the Netherlands. She has held Visiting Professorship at Keio University in Japan and Visiting Researcher posts at Aalto University in Helsinki and Erasmus University in Rotterdam. She regularly collaborates with inter-disciplinary networks beyond Cambridge, looking at challenges such as urban densification and low cost housing and the adaptation of solar technologies in communities, focusing on the perspectives of women.

She has authored over 60 peer-reviewed publications and her research on understanding domestic energy demand and conceptualisation of the 'prebound effect' has directly informed housing and thermal retrofit policy. She authors policy briefings such as the British Academy COP26 Policy Briefing on Cities and Energy Transitions.

Her work was presented in BBCArts 'Animated Thinking' series showing how today’s slums in India and how the transition to high-rise flats has adversely and radically affected the lives of women. 

She teaches undergraduate and MPhil courses at the Department and she is interested in developing research training in architectural education. She is a registered architect and an elected member of the Research and Education Committee of the Association of Finnish Architects/SAFA and the Editorial Board of Buildings&Cities journal.

Professor Sunikka-Blank is Director of Studies and Fellow in Architecture in Churchill College.


Key publications: 

Articles/Chapters in international peer-reviewed Journals/Books

Li, X., Sunikka-Blank, M. 2023. "The computer is never turned off”: Children’s domestic practices and energy demand in urban China  Energy Research and Social Science (97), 1-10.

Sunikka-Blank, M., Schupp, J., Flintham, M. 2022. Moments in Pickwick: Opening a window into women’s lived experiences of transitional housing through participatory filmmaking, Screenworks, Volume (13)1.

Sunikka-Blank, M., Bardhan, R., Mohandas, P., 2022, From informal to formal: understanding gendered energy transitions through filmmaking in Cape Town and Mumbai, Gender, Place & Culture (open access).

Mitcheltree, H., Sunikka-Blank, M. 2022. Identifying a research gap in relation to family and domestic violence accommodation design within Victoria, Australia: A systematic review, Frontiers of Architectural Research,

Sunikka-Blank, M., Kiyono, Y., 2022, "Why do you need more towers? Four approaches to sustainable urban regeneration in Japan", Architectural Research Quarterly, 1-12. doi:10.1017/S1359135522000069

Razem, M., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2022, "Selling 'cool': The role of marketing in normalizing domestic AC marketing in Jordan, Energy Research and Social Science (90),

Sunikka-Blank, M., Bardhan, R., Abdie, D., 2021, “We Need Ground Space”: Urban Densification and Transitional Housing in Ethiopia, Journal of the British Academy, 9(6).

Sunikka-Blank, M., Galvin, R., 2021, Single parents in cold homes in Europe: How intersecting personal and national characteristics drive up the numbers of these vulnerable households, Energy Policy (150) 112134, 11 p.

Li, X., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2021, Urban densification and social capital: neighbourhood restructuring in Jinan, China, Buildings and Cities 2(1), pp. 244-263, 20 p. https://doi. org/10.5334/bc.70

Rajadhyaksha, A., Sunikka-Blank, M., Bardhan, R., Schupp, J., 2021, ­CineGenus: everyday life and energy use in chawls in Indian cinema, in: Penz, F., Schupp, J. (eds) Everyday Life in Cinema, London (Routledge).

Debnath, R., Bardhan, R., Darby, S., Mohaddes, K., Sunikka-Blank, M., Villaça Coelho, A.C., Isa, A., 2021, Words against injustices: A deep narrative analysis of energy cultures in poverty of Abuja, Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro, Energy Research and Social Science (72) 101892, 17 p.

Mokhles, S., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2021, “I'm always home” Social infrastructure and women’s personal mobility patterns in informal settlements in Iran, Gender, Place and Culture. 27 p.

Sunikka-Blank, M., Bardhan, R., Schupp, J., Prabhu, J., & Penz, F., 2020, Films as source of everyday life and energy use: A case of Indian cinema. Energy Research & Social Science (69) 101655. 13 p.

Debnath, R., Simoes, G.M.F., Bardhan, R., Leder, S.M., Lamberts, R., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2020, Energy Justice in Slum Rehabilitation Housing: An Empirical Exploration of Built Environment Effects on Socio-Cultural Energy Demand. Sustainability (12)7, 3027, 27 p.

Ren, G., Sunikka-Blank, M., Zhang, X., 2020, Young urban households in Shanghai, China: Characteristic of energy use and attitudes, Sustainable Cities and Society (60), 102174, 10 p.

Khaldi, Y.M., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2020, Governing renewable energy transition in conflict contexts: investigating the institutional context in Palestine. Energy Transitions (4): pp. 69–90,

Khalid, R., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2020, Housing and household practices: Practice-based sustainability interventions for low-energy houses in Lahore, Pakistan, Energy for Sustainable Development (54): pp. 148-163.

Ren, G., Heo, Y., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2019, Investigating an adequate level of modelling for retrofit: A case study of British semi-detaches house, Journal of Building Engineering (23):

Debnath, R., Bardhan, R., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2019, How does slum rehabilitation influence appliance ownership? A structural model of non-income drivers, Energy Policy (132): pp. 418-428,

Sunikka-Blank, M., Haque, A.N., Bardhan, R., 2018, Gender, domestic energy and design of inclusive low-income habitats: A case of slum rehabilitation housing in India, Habitat International. 49, pp. 53-67, (14 p.),

Khalid, R., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2018, Evolving houses, demanding practices: A case of rising electricity consumption of the middle class in Pakistan, Building and Environment (143): pp. 293–305, (12 p.) DOI:

Galvin R., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2018, Economic inequality and household energy consumption in high-income countries: A challenge for social science based energy research, Ecological Economics (153): pp. 78–88 (10 p.) DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2018.07.003

Gillich, A., Sunikka-Blank, M., Ford, A., 2018, Designing an ‘optimal’ domestic retrofit programme, Building Research and Information, 46(7), pp. 767-778. (11 p.) DOI:

Khalid, R., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2017, Homely social practices, uncanny electricity demands: Class, culture and material dynamics in Pakistan, Energy Research & Social Science (34): pp. 122-131 (9 p.) DOI:

Sunikka-Blank, M., Galvin, R., Behar, C., 2017, Harnessing class, taste and gender for more effective energy policies, Building Research and Information, 46(1): pp. 114-126 (12 p.) DOI: 10.1080/09613218.2017.1356129.

Galvin, R., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2017, Ten questions concerning sustainable domestic thermal retrofit policy research, Building and Environment (118): pp. 377-388 (11 p.), DOI:

Galvin, R., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2016, Schatzkian practice theory and energy consumption research: Time for some philosophical spring cleaning? Energy Research & Social Science (7): pp. 55–65 (10 p.) DOI:

Gillich, A., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2017, Lessons for the UK Green Deal from the US BBNP, Building Research and Information, 45(4): pp. 384-395 (11p.)

Galvin, R., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2016, Quantification of (p)rebound Effects in Retrofit Policies – Why does it Matter? Energy (95): pp. 415-424 (9 p.)  DOI:

Sunikka-Blank, M., Galvin, R., 2015, Irrational homeowners? How aesthetics and heritage values influence thermal retrofit decisions in the United Kingdom, Energy Research and Social Science (11): pp. 97-108 (11p.). DOI:

Galvin, R., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2014a, The UK homeowner-retrofitter as an innovator in a socio-technical system, Energy Policy (74): pp. 655-662 (7 p.). DOI:

Galvin, R., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2014b, Disaggregating the causes of falling consumption of domestic heating energy in Germany, Energy Efficiency (5): pp. 851-864 (13 p.), DOI: 10.1007/s12053-014-9259-5.

Galvin R., Sunikka-Blank M., 2013, Economic Viability in Thermal Retrofit Policies: Learning from Ten Years of Experience in Germany, Energy Policy (54): pp. 343-351 (8 p.). DOI:

Sunikka-Blank, M., Galvin, R., 2012, Prebound effect: the gap between performance and the actual consumption, Building Research and Information 40(3): pp. 260-273.

Galvin, R., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2012, Including fuel price elasticity of demand in net present value and payback time calculations of thermal retrofits: case study of German dwellings, Energy and Buildings (50): pp. 219-228. DOI: 10.1016/j.enbuild.2012.03.043

Sunikka-Blank, M., Chen, J., Dantsiou, D., Britnell, J., 2012, Improving energy efficiency of social housing areas – a case study of a retrofit achieving an ’A’ energy performance rating in the UK, European Planning Studies, 20(1): pp. 133-147.

Sunikka-Blank, M., Iwafune, Y., 2011, Sustainable building in Japan - observations on a market transformation policy, Environmental Policy and Governance, 21(5): pp. 351-363. DOI: 10.1002/eet.580

Sunikka-Blank, M., 2011, The concept and aesthetics of sustainable building in Japan, in: Lee, S. (ed.) Aesthetics of Sustainable Architecture, Rotterdam (010 Publishers), pp. 186-197.

Sunikka, M., 2006, Energy efficiency and lower carbon technologies in urban renewal, Building Research and Information, 34(6), pp. 521-533.

Beerepoot, M., Sunikka M., 2005, The contribution of the EC energy certificate in improving sustainability of the housing stock, Environment and Planning B, 32(1): pp. 21-31.

Sunikka, M., 2003, Fiscal instruments in sustainable housing policies in the EU and the accession countries, European Environment, 13(4): pp. 227-239. DOI: 10.1002/eet.318

Edited books

Galvin R., Sunikka-Blank M., 2013, A Critical Appraisal of Germany's Thermal Retrofit Policy: Turning Down the Heat. Springer-Verlag, Berlin/Heidelberg/New York (ISBN-10: 1447153669, ISBN-13: 978-1447153665). (148 p.)

Teaching and Supervisions

Research supervision: 

Prof Sunikka-Blank currently supervises PhD students Heather Mitcheltree, Mengyuan Li, and Fatma Mhmood and ESRC DTP students Noor Mazhar and Rebecca Foster (with Prof Charlotte Lemanski from Geography). Her completed PhD students’ include:

  • Yasser Khaldi: Governing renewable energy transitions in conflict contexts: the case of Palestine
  • Maiss Razem: From efficiency to sufficiency: Socio-technical analysis of the role of design, marketing, and users in shaping domestic comfort practices and Air Conditioning use in Jordan
  • Xin Li: Urban densification, social capital, and domestic energy demand: neighbourhood restructuring in Jinan city, China
  • Ramit Debnath: Contextualising energy justice in low-income built environment: Towards data-driven policy interventions for addressing distributive injustices in slum rehabilitation housing of the Global South
  • Rihab Khalid: Socio-material constructs of domestic energy demand: household and housing practices in Pakistan
  • Guangying Ren: Electricity use in urban households in China: occupancy patterns, attitudes and policy initiatives
  • Dimitra Dantsiou: (De)constructing and transforming workplace practices: Feedback as an intervention


Prof Sunikka-Blank is the Chair or Part II Examiners in and teaches the course on Sustainable Housing and Climate Change. 

Professor of Architecture and Environmental Policy
Fellow of Churchill College
Director of Studies in Architecture for Churchill College
Dr. Minna  Sunikka-Blank