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Department of Architecture



Sebastian Macmillan is a Chartered Architect who trained at the University of Liverpool before going on to undertake a doctorate in design research supported by the Science Research Council at the Royal College of Art. He spent a decade in architectural practice where he worked on a variety of commercial, domestic and public buildings, before becoming a founder partners of Eclipse Research Consultants, a small independent research consultancy undertaking commissions for a variety of mostly public sector built environment organisations. He has written many good practice guides on energy efficiency in the built environment. He is also an Associate with Cambridge Architectural Research. He joined the Department of Architecture on a part-time basis in 1996, and was appointed Director of IDBE, a joint initiative of the Departments of Architecture and Engineering, in 2006.

He is an External Examiner at UCL and the University of Dundee, a past External Advisor at Birmingham City University, and an Academic Advisor at the Universiti of Teknologi MARA, Malaysia. He is a member of the Peer Review College of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, a past member of the UK's Research Assessment Exercise Architecture and Built Environment Panel, and regular referee for academic journals concerned with design and the built environment. He has lectured widely in UK universities, and in Europe, Ukraine, United States, Abu Dhabi, Australia, and Malaysia. 


Dr Macmillan’s research interests lie in three main areas. First, the tangible and intangible benefits of a well-designed built environment, including its effect on social, economic and environmental outcomes and the different sorts of value that it delivers – whether use value and social value, or cultural value and image value. The second area is concerned with technological innovations particularly to support low energy buildings, such as smart controls, ergonomic interfaces, renewable energy sources, intelligent facades, and combined heat and power systems. The third area is in improvements in the project process, such as interdisciplinary collaboration and effective teamwork, the application of techniques like whole life costing, through to the development and implementation of tools such as Building Information Modelling (BIM).


Key publications: 

Books and book chapters

2009      Sustainable buildings need integrated teams – the O’Neill Report, published by the Specialist Engineering Alliance, 33 pages. Launched in the House of Commons by Lord O’Neill, 17 March.

2006      The Value Handbook, Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, 60 pages.

2004      Editor, Designing Better Buildings: quality and value in the built environment Spon Press, 220 pages, ISBN 0 415 31526 3. Author of Chapter 1 Design as a generator of value. Includes 18 chapters by leading figures such as Jon Rouse, Sunand Prasad, Richard Feilden, Dickon Robinson, Michael Dickson. Foreword by Robin Nicholson.

2001      With Robin Spence and Paul Kirby (joint editors), Interdisciplinary Design in Practice, pub. Thomas Telford, London, 227 pages. ISBN 0 7277 3008 8. Three authored chapters: Chapter 12 (with Christopher French) Successful teamwork from day one: running an interdisciplinary design workshop; Chapter 13 Managing an interdisciplinary design team effectively; Chapter 14 (with John Steele) Towards an interdisciplinary design process.

Refereed Journal Articles

2013     With Collier, F., Hambling, J., Kernaghan, S., Kovacevic, B., Miller, R., Payá Pérez, A., and Richardson, E. Tomorrow’s cities: a framework to assess urban resilience’,  Urban Design and Planning, vol 167, no 2, pp 79-91.

2010      ‘Architectural research and its enemies’, ARQ (Architectural Research Quarterly), vol 14, no 1, pp 11-16.

2006      ‘Added value of good design’, Building Research & Information, vol 34, no 3, pp 257-271.

2005      With Foley, J. ‘Patterns of interaction in construction team meetings’, CoDesign, vol 1, no 1, pp 19-37.

2002      ‘The right vision for construction R&D? Responding to the Fairclough Report’, Building Research and Information, vol 30 no 5, pp 328-333.

2002     With J. Steele, P. Kirby, R. Spence and S. Austin, ‘Mapping the design process during the conceptual phase of building projects’ Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol 9, no 3, pp 174-180 [also published in Proceedings of CIB W96 Commission on Architectural Management: Design Management in the Architectural and Engineering Office, (held in Atlanta, May 2000) edited by G Augenbroe and M Prins, CIB Report/Publication 263, pages 97-108, CIB Rotterdam, March 2001, ISBN 90-6363-027-1.]

2001      With Simon Austin, John Steele, Paul Kirby and Robin Spence. ‘Mapping the conceptual design activity of interdisciplinary teams’, Design Studies, vol 22 no 3 pp 211-232.

2001     With Simon Austin, John Steele, Paul Kirby and Robin Spence, ‘Development and verification of a generic framework for conceptual design’, Design Studies, vol 22 no 2 pp 161-191.

2001      How does innovation link to research? A review of Building Innovation: complex constructs in a changing world’ by David Gann, Building Research and Information, vol 29, no 3, pp 250-252.

1983       with I. Cooper and J. Powell, ‘Information for Designers’, Design Studies, vol 5, no 2, pp 113-120.

1983     ‘Synopses of some recent published studies of the design process and designer behaviour’, Design Studies, vol 4, no 2, pp 133-140.

1981      Architectural designers' values and the evaluation of their designs’, Design Studies, vol 2, no 3, pp 131-137.

1981      Empirical and theoretical studies of design judgement: a review’, Design Studies, vol 2, no 1, pp 19-26.

Conference papers and invited presentations

2013      with Pavni Sahni Kohli ‘Exploring critical success factors in multi-organisational interdisciplinary construction projects’, paper to CIB World Building Conference 2013, Brisbane, 6-9 May 2013.

2013      Great Australian Dream: the impact of household aspirations on spatial planning in Sydney’, paper to CIB World Building Congress 2013, Brisbane, 6-9 May 2013.

2010      With D Clements-Croome, Z A Samad, and D Mumovic, ‘Designing intelligent schools’, Proceedings CIB World Building Congress 2010, Salford, May 2010, CIB Publication 358, pp 1-15.

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2005      with C Earl, C Eckert, L Bucciarelli, D Whitney, T Knight, M Stacey, A Blackwell and P Clarkson, ‘Comparative study of design with application to engineering design’, paper to International Conferences on Engineering Design (ICED05) Melbourne, 15-18 August, 2005.

2004      with C. Eckert, A Blackwell, L Bucciarelli, J Clarkson, C Earl, T Knight, M Stacey and D Whitney, ‘What designers think we need to know about their processes: early results from a comparative study’, paper to International Design Conference – Design 2004, Dubrovnik 18-21 May 2004.

1991      with L Shorrock, J Clark, and G Moore, ‘BREDEM-8, a monthly calculation method for energy use in dwellings: testing and development’, paper to BEP (Building Environmental Performance) '91, proceedings published by Building Environmental Performance Analysis Club.

Best practice publications and case studies

2007      Environmental Sustainability: design guidance note, Sport England.

2007      With David Adamson, Tony Pollington, Kevin Thomas, The business case for integrated collaborated working, Constructing Excellence.

2004      Partnering workshops to promote teamwork in the construction of Oakfields Primary School, Wickford, Essex: a case study, Constructing Excellence.

2004      Effective Teamwork – a good practice guide for the construction industry, Constructing Excellence.

2003      CHP in hotels – a guide for owners and managers, Good Practice Guide 384, Action Energy.

2000      The design team’s guide to environmentally smart buildings – energy efficient options for new and refurbished offices, Good Practice Guide 287, Energy Efficiency Best Practice programme.

1999      Energy efficient refurbishment of schools – the achievements of Bolton Council, Good Practice Case Study 381, Energy Efficiency Best Practice programme.

1998      Effective management of energy in sports centres - Kirklees Metropolitan Council, Good Practice Case Study 360, Energy Efficiency Best Practice programme.

1997      Energy efficient refurbishment of hotels and guesthouses - a guide for proprietors and managers, Good Practice Guide 205, Energy Efficiency Best Practice programme, 16-page guide.

1996      Energy efficiency action pack - for retail premises, Good Practice Guide 190, Energy Efficiency Best Practice programme, 12-page guide with eight loose-leaf inserts.

1995      Protect our environment - save energy, a guide to managing energy in hotels, four-page guide with 6 posters, published by BRECSU on behalf of the DoE and the SAVE programme of DGXVII of the European Commission.

1995      The Derwentwater Hotel, Keswick, UK, Good Practice Case Study 297, Energy Efficiency Office Best Practice programme.

1995      The Munich Park Hilton Hotel, Germany, Good Practice Case Study 296, Energy Efficiency Office Best Practice programme.

1994      Energy efficient house design - exploiting solar energy, Good Practice Guide 73, Energy Efficiency Office Best Practice programme.

1993      Energy Efficiency in Hotels - a guide for owners and managers, Energy Consumption Guide 36, Energy Efficiency Office Best Practice programme.



Former Director, Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment (IDBE)
Dr Sebastian  Macmillan