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Designed and built by Behaviour and Building Performance Centre’s researcher and artist Alex Schweder with Ward Shelley, ReActor is the latest work in an experimental, performative series of ‘social relationship architecture’. In the summer of 2016,for a total of five days, the architect-artist duo lived in the rotating house,located in upstate New York.


BBP logoThe focus of the BBP research team is on the interrelationships between people and the built environment.

The BBP group is an interdisciplinary and collaborative research initiative working at intersection of:

  • Behaviour (people, perception, practices, health, wellbeing, neuroscience, cognition, etc.)
  • Built environment (urbanism, architecture, construction, simulation, modelling, etc.)
  • Performance and Policy (environmental, energy, social, sustainability, etc.)

We believe that the human experience is influenced by the built environment (and vice versa) and that the performance and sustainability of the built environment is dependent on this interaction. Although the context for our research is global –with projects in Europe, Africa, Asia and beyond– it has a direct relevance to the UK. In England alone, more than 10 million people currently live in ‘non-decent’ homes that present a serious health, safety and environmental risk. The solutions to such challenges are interdisciplinary and require the consideration of economic, engineering, environmental, and social factors in the design and retrofit of our built environment.

Our projects address the key sustainable development challenges of health and wellbeing (SDG3), gender equality (SDG5), clean and affordable energy (SDG7), sustainable cities (SDG11), responsible consumption and production (SDG12) and climate action (SDG13).


Co-directors:   Visiting Fellows:

Professor Koen Steemers

Professor Minna Sunikka-Blank

Associate Professor Ronita Bardhan

Assistant Professor Michal Gath-Morad


Chiara Jutzi (University of Salzburg, Austria)

Tijn Croon (TU Delft, The Netherlands)

Dr Philip Graham (Cullinan Studio, UK)

Mette Boisen Lyhne (Aarhus School of Architecture, Denmark)

Researchers:          Associates:

Sam Aitkenhead

Shujuan Chen                  

Rebecca Forster

I-Dec Goh

Mohamed Hesham Khalil

Bing-Tao Lee

Flora Haiwei Li

Mengyuan Li

Fatma Mhmood

Heather Mitcheltree

Michaela Mitrovic

Jiayu Pan

Filomena Russo

Michael Salka

T. Shao

Maoran Sun

Cleo Valentine

Jon Wood


Dr Jamie Anderson (Buro Happold, UK)

Dr Anna Boldina (RHP, Cambridge, UK)

Dr Alex Coburn (University of California, San Francisco, USA)

Dr Kan-chane Gunawardena (BDP, UK)

Dr Yasser Khaldi (Arab American University, Palestine)

Dr Rihab Khalid (Research Fellow, Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, UK)

Dr Xin Li (Nanjing University, China)

Dr Martijn Lugten (Assist. Prof., TU Delft, Netherlands)

Dr Zhikai Peng (Postdoc, TU Delft, Netherlands)

Dr Maiss Razem (Al Ahliyya Amman University, Jordan)

Dr Alex Schweder (Performance Architecture, New York, USA)

Isabelle Sjövall (University College London, UK)

Lydia Tew (Max Fordham LLP, Cambridge, UK)




Performance gap

Bardhan, R, Debnath, R, Malik, J, & Sarkar, A. (2018): Low-income housing layouts under socio-architectural complexities: A parametric study for sustainable slum rehabilitation, Sustainable Cities and Society, 41,  

Debnath, R, Bardhan, R & Banerjee, R. (2016): Investigating the age of air in rural Indian kitchens for sustainable built-environment design. Journal of Building Engineering, 7: 320-333,

Galvin, R., 2015, ‘Constant’ rebound effects in domestic heating: Developing a cross-sectional method. Ecological Economics 110: 28–35.

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


Behaviour and retrofit

Ben, H., Steemers, K., 2014, Energy retrofit and occupant behaviour in protected housing, Energy and Buildings, 80, pp. 120–130.

Heo, Y., Augenbroe, G., Graziano, D., Muehleisen, R.T., Guzowski, L., 2014, Scalable methodology for large scale building energy improvement: relevance of calibration in model-based retrofit analysis. Building and Environment, doi:10.1016/j.buildenv.2014.12.016

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

W. V. Lee and K. Steemers, 2013, ‘Accounting for exposure duration in overheating risk assessment: A Chicago retrofit case study’, ASHRAE Transactions, 119 (2).

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.

Galvin, R., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2013, Economic viability in thermal retrofit policies: Learning from ten years of experience in Germany. Energy Policy 54: 343–351.


Energy use and behaviour

Gunawardena, K., Kershaw, T., & Steemers, K. (2019). Simulation pathway for estimating heat island influence on urban/suburban building space-conditioning loads and response to facade material changes. Building and Environment, 150 (March 2019), 195–205.

Khalid, R., Christensen, T.H., Gram-Hanssen, K., Friis, F., 2019. Time-shifting laundry practices in a smart grid perspective: a cross-cultural analysis of Pakistani and Danish middle-class households. Energy Efficiency.

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, 293–305.

Gunawardena, K. R., Mccullen, N., & Kershaw, T. (2017). Heat island influence on space-conditioning loads of urban and suburban office buildings. In Cities and Climate Conference 2017, Potsdam: Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, pp. 1–13.

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

Gunawardena, K. R., & Kershaw, T. (2017). Urban climate influence on building energy use. In M. P. Burlando, Massimiliano; Canepa, Maria; Magliocco, Adriano; Perini, Katia, Repetto, ed., International Conference on Urban Comfort and Environmental Quality URBAN-CEQ, Genoa: Genoa University Press, pp. 175–84.

Chen, J., Wang, X., Steemers, K., 2013, ‘A statistical analysis of a residential energy consumption survey study in Hangzhou, China’, Energy and Buildings, 66, Nov., 193-202.

Cheng, V., Steemers, K., 2011, ‘Modelling domestic energy consumption at district scale: A tool to support national and local energy policies’, Environmental Modelling and Software, Elsevier, Volume 26, Issue 10, October 2011, pages 1186–1198, doi:10.1016/j.envsoft.2011.04.005.

Yun, G.Y., Steemers, K., 2011, ‘Behavioural, physical and socio-economic factors in household cooling energy consumption’, Applied Energy, vol. 88, issue 6, pages 2191-2200,  doi:10.1016/j.apenergy.2011.01.010.

Yun, G.Y., Steemers, K., 2010, Night-time naturally ventilated offices: Statistical simulations of window-use patterns from field monitoring. Solar Energy, 84(7), 1216-1231. doi:10.1016/j.solener.2010.03.029

Chen, J., Steemers, K., 2010, ‘A Pilot Investigation of Occupant Behavior and Energy Demand for the Domestic Sector in China compared to the UK’, Proceedings of the 1st China-UK Forum on Low Carbon Cities and Architecture (LCCA), December, Harbin Institute of Technology.

Steemers, K., Yun, G.Y., 2009, 'Household energy consumption: a study of the role of occupants', Building Research and Information, 38(1), pp. 625 – 637.

Yun, G.Y., Tuohy, P., Steemers K., 2009, ‘Thermal performance of naturally ventilated buildings using a combined algorithm of probabilistic occupant behaviour and deterministic heat and mass balance models’, Energy and Buildings, 41(5), pp. 489-499


Behaviour modelling

Choudhary, R., Bafna, S., Heo, Y., Hendrich, A., Chow, M., 2010, A predictive model for computing the influence of space layouts on nurses movement in hospital units. Journal of Building Performance Simulation, 3(3):171-184.

Li, Z., Heo, Y., Augenbroe, G., 2009, HVAC system design methods that respond to organizational dynamics. Proceedings of the Eleventh International IBPSA Conference, Glasgow, Scotland.


Behaviour and policy

Bardhan, R, Debnath, R & Jana, A. (2019): Evolution of Energy Policy in India since 1947: A review, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews on Energy and Environment, 340 (e), 1-16. 

Bardhan, R,  Debnath, R, Jana, A & Norford, L K. (2018): Investigating the local mean-age of air with the healthcare seeking behavior of low-income tenement housing in Mumbai. Habitat International, 71C: 156-168.    

Debnath, R, Bardhan, R, & Banerjee, R. (2017): Taming the killer in the kitchen: mitigating household air pollution from solid-fuel cookstoves through building design. Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy. 

Bardhan, R, & Debnath, R. (2016): Towards daylight inclusive bye-law: Daylight as an energy saving route for affordable housing in India: Energy for Sustainable Development, 34:1-9. 

Bardhan, R, Debnath, R & Bandopadhyay, S. (2016): A conceptual model for identifying the risk susceptibility of urban green spaces using geo-spatial techniques. Modelling Earth System and Environment, 2(3). 

Galvin, R., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2014, Disaggregating the causes of falling consumption of domestic heating energy in Germany, Energy Efficiency, 7: pp. 851-864.

Galvin, R., 2013, Targeting ‘behavers’ rather than behaviours: A ‘subject-oriented’ approach for reducing space heating rebound effects in low energy dwellings. Energy and Buildings 67: 596–607.

Galvin, R., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2012, Including fuel price elasticity of demand in net present value and payback calculations of thermal retrofits, Energy and Buildings, 50, pp. 219-228.


Health and Wellbeing

Anderson, J., Ruggeri, K., Steemers, K., & Huppert, F. (2016). 'Lively Social Space, Well-Being Activity, and Urban Design', Environment and Behaviour, 1-32 (Open Access link)

Steemers, K., 2015, ‘Architecture for well-being and health’, Daylight & Architecture, Spring 2015, Issue 23, pp 6-27. (also available online:

Manchanda, S., Steemers, K., 2011, ‘Environmental Control and the Creation of Wellbeing’ in Rassia, S. Th. and Pardalos, P. M. (eds.), Sustainable Environmental Design in Architecture: Impacts on Health, pp. 69-82, Springer, NY, 28 November 2011 (ISBN 978-1-4419-0744-8) (DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4419-0745-5)

Baker, N., Rassia, S., K. Steemers, 2011, ‘Designing for occupant movement in the workplace to improve health’, Proceedings of the 5th International Symposium on Sustainable Healthy Buildings, SHB2011, Seoul, Korea, 10 Feburary 2011 (ISBN 978-89-94935-00-3 94500).

Steemers, K., Manchanda, S., 2010, ‘Energy efficient design and occupant well-being: Case studies in the UK and India’, Building and Environment, Volume 45, Issue 2, February 2010, pp. 270-278.

Anderson, J., French, M., Steemers, K., 2010, ‘Sustainability as promoting well-being: psychological dimensions of thermal comfort’. Conf Proc, Sustainable Building: Building SMART, Dipoli, Finland, 22-24 September.

Steemers, K., 2009, ‘Sustainable Design and Well-being’, Proc. of the 1st International Symposium on Sustainable Health Building, Seoul, Korea, pp. 173-180, 6 February 2009. (ISBN 978-89-955194-5-5)


Thermal comfort and heat risk mitigation

Gunawardena, K., & Steemers, K. (2019). Adaptive comfort assessments in urban neighbourhoods: Simulations of a residential case study from London. Energy and Buildings, 202, 109322.

Gunawardena, K., & Steemers, K. (2019). Living walls in indoor environments. Building and Environment, 148 (January 2019), 478–487.

Sharmin, T. & Steemers, K., 2018. Effects of microclimate and human parameters on outdoor thermal sensation in the high-density tropical context of Dhaka. International Journal of Biometeorology. 

Gunawardena, K. R., Wells, M. J., & Kershaw, T. (2017). Utilising green and bluespace to mitigate urban heat island intensity. Science of the Total Environment, 584–585, 1040–1055. 

Sharmin, T., Steemers, K. & Matzarakis, A., 2017. Microclimatic modelling in assessing the impact of urban geometry on thermal urban environment. Sustainable Cities and Society.

Gunawardena, K. R., & Kershaw, T. (2016). Green and blue-space significance to urban heat island mitigation. In S. Emmit & K. Adeyeye, eds., Integrated Design International Conference (ID@50), Bath: University of Bath.

Sharmin, T., Steemers, K. & Matzarakis, A., 2015. Analysis of microclimatic diversity and outdoor thermal comfort perceptions in the tropical megacity Dhaka, Bangladesh. Building and Environment, 94 (November), pp.734–750.

Sharmin, T., Steemers, K., 2014, Harmonious accordance of indoor-outdoor comfort and building energy performance by ameliorating urban microclimate in different urban block types in tropical climate. IC2UHI - International Conference on Countermeasures to Urban Heat Island, Venice, Italy, October 13-15, 2014.

Lee, W.V., Steemers, K., 2013, ‘Reviewing Overheating Assessment in the Context of Health Risk – A demonstration of the effects of retrofit in future climates’, CISBAT International Conference, EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland, 4-6 September.

Lee, W.V., Steemers, K., 2013, ‘Unpacking Overheating Risks Through Exposure Duration: A demonstration of the effect of construction types in future climates’. PLEA 2013 Conference Proceedings, Munich, German, 10-12 September.

Sharmin,T., Steemers, K., 2013, Effect of Canyon Geometry on Outdoor Thermal Comfort: a Case-study of High-density, Warm-humid Climate. PLEA 2013 Conference Proceedings, Munich, Germany. 10-12 September.

Lee, W.V., Steemers, K., 2013, ‘Accounting for Exposure Duration in Overheating Risk Assessment – A Chicago retrofit case study’, ASHRAE Annual Conference, Denver, CO, USA, 22-26 June.

Lee, W.V., Steemers, K., 2013, ‘Beyond Benchmarking: Accounting for exposure duration in overheating risk assessment method - London mid-terraced dwelling case study’, CIBSE Technical Symposium, Liverpool, UK, 11-12 April.


Perception and light

Cai, H., Spreckelmeyer, K., Mendenhall, A., Li, D., Holmes, C., & Levy, M. (2018). A Regional Survey on Residents’ Preferences on Patient-Centered Medical Home Design in Rural Areas. HERD: Health Environments Research & Design Journal.

Lo, W.L., Steemers, K., 2014, A new subjective-objective approach to evaluating lighting quality, Passive and Low Energy Architecture conference, PLEA 2014, Ahmedabad, India.

Lo, W.L., Steemers, K., 2014, Perceived and Measurable: Lighting of Cambridge King's College Chapel for concerts as a case study. Proceedings of Experiencing Light 2014, International Conference on the Effects of Light on Wellbeing, Eindhoven, the Netherlands, 10-11 November

Lo, W.L., Steemers, K., 2012, Application of the state of the art HDR imaging analysis in lighting research: A pilot study on King’s College Antechapel, Cambridge. In: Proceedings of Experiencing Light 2012: International Conference on the Effects of Light on Wellbeing, Eindhoven, Netherlands, 12-13 November.


Uncertainty and performance

Sun, Y., Heo, Y., Xie, H., Tan, M., Wu, J., Augenbroe, G., 2014, Uncertainty quantification of microclimate variables in building energy simulation. Journal of Building Performance Simulation, 7(1):17-32.

Heo, Y., and Zavala, V. M. (2012). Gaussian process modeling for measurement and verification of building energy savings. Energy and Buildings, 53:7-18.

Heo, Y., Choudhary, R., and Augenbroe, G. (2012). Calibration of building energy models for retrofit analysis under uncertainty. Energy and Buildings, 47:550-560.