Who are you and what do you do?
A research scientist by background, I am now a building environmental engineer, and have specialised in education buildings for around twenty years. Alongside my own projects, I work across Buro Happold’s global practice, to drive project quality, innovation, and assist with our relationships with key clients and collaborators in the sector. I lead thought leadership activities relevant to universities, including themes such as designing for student mental health, the use of data to improve outcomes, and defining practical steps towards zero carbon.
I also act as a liaison between Buro Happold and external bodies such as AUDE, HEDQF, the DfE, and have contributed to publications including the HEDQF book “Future Campus”, the Zero Carbon Schools Task Force report and the CIBSE Schools Design manual.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Difficult to narrow it down! Personally, bringing up two happy children who are both successfully making their way in the world, and professionally, seeing my engineering design ideas become reality.
What is your favourite thing about your career?
The ability to develop new approaches and skills across a wide range of themes, particularly in this ever-changing sector with new challenges presenting themselves all of the time. This keeps me fresh, with no two days the same.
Describe HEDQF in a sentence?
Sharing and stimulating design excellence to help drive inspiration, quality and efficiency in the sector.
What is your contribution to HEDQF?
I work as a part of the events team, assisting with the conference, visits, and other events. I try to attend as many of these as possible, and also ensure that Buro Happold sponsors these from time to time.
What does a good HE building mean to you – quote?
One that delights, has a long life, delivers on its promises and has minimal environmental impact.
One thing about you that will surprise people?
I am a semi-professional singer and have sung at many events, including the first memorial service for Princess Diana, the baptism of Sting’s children, and the funeral and memorial service for Peter Cook (the comedian, not the architect, who is still very much alive!).
Future of learning: green or bleak?
Very green. While political challenge in the UK threatens to devalue areas such as arts and humanities, the appetite for learning, engagement, and life changing experiences across all subjects seems to be continually rising across the world
What is your favourite piece of design?
Bicycle hub gears – efficient, reliable and elegant – and staying on a similar the Brompton bike
Do you know your carbon footprint (https://www.footprintcalculator.org/ )?
Sadly yes – 3 earths but I am working on reducing it!
Zero Carbon – 2035 or 2055?
2055. Most institutions will rely on massive offsetting to fulfil their targets, and there is too little carbon literacy at all levels of society to understand the path to achieving this (switch things off before thinking about investing in renewables etc). A light at the end of the tunnel is that the instability in fuel prices which we are currently seeing is that it should make investment in renewable energy and carbon reduction more viable.
Working from home or office?
All over the place – home, office, clients, collaborators, train, cafes. Whatever is best for the task in hand and to meet people!!
That’s all from Mike for now, look out for our next interview in June …..