Interview with Rupert Cook

This month we have been speaking to Rupert Cook, HEDQF Trustee, Co-Chair of the Research Group, and Partner at Miltiadou Cook Mitzman architects llp.  

Who are you and what do you do?  

I’m a partner at my own practice; Miltiadou Cook Mitzman architects llp, formed in the autumn of 2020, with an old university friend. We both worked on University buildings many years ago, Socrates worked on the Dublin Dental Hospital at Trinity College Dublin, I worked on Loughborough Business and Economics school while we are at ABK.  I subsequently led the university work at my previous practice for 20+ years working with many universities.  

We are now involved with several University and College clients, mainly focussed on the strategic picture, changes post-covid and on sustainability – as I qualified as a Certified Passivhaus Designer earlier this year. 

On a more personal note, I am a husband, father of 3 and  vegan. We are slowly self-building/ refurbishing a 1968 brick townhouse to the PassivHaus refurbishment standard ‘EnerPHit, in Winchester. The photo is me on a mini JCB that I hired when I started the site clearance and groundworks for the extension and refurbishment.

What is your proudest accomplishment? 

The Camden Lightwell Café, a project for the Royal Veterinary College was featured in the Open House Book ‘An exclusive insight into 100 architecturally inspiring buildings in London’.  

What is your favourite thing about your career?  

The people and variety of project work. Universities are places that contain virtually every building type with fascinating people. 

Describe HEDQF in a sentence  

Shared knowledge and insight into high quality design for the university sector.

What is your contribution to HEDQF?  

I’m Co-chair of the Research Group and have been a Trustee since the creation of the charity. My involvement with HEDQF goes back to 2004, that year we visited Warwick University and the annual conference was at Woburn House in Russell Square. Over the years I have worked alongside a number of chairs, in 2004 it was Professor Roy Newton, and convenor was Roger Hawkins, who had recently taken over from Richard Feilden. Ian Caldwell soon became chair, followed by Professor Philip Ogden – dealing with the change to a charity, then Julian Robinson our recent past chair, before Dr Ghazwa Alwani-Starr was elected chair in 2020.  

After joining in 2004 I became more and more involved over the years and was elected Joint-Convenor with Fiona Duggan circa 2009, then with Liz Pride. When Liz stood down, Ian Goodfellow became joint convenor with me. In 2015 when we became a charity, I then stepped across to join Dr Caroline Paradise develop the Research Group, which has remained a strong interest of mine.  My HEDQF highlights include: 

  • 2008 Spoke at the annual HEDQF Conference hosted by NLA, at the Building Centre 
  • 2009 Co-organised the HEDQF Conference hosted by RIBA at Portland Place.  
  • Hosted the evening event ‘More for less’, about delivering design value in the credit crunch.
  • Wrote two pieces for the RIBA ‘Building Futures’ publication titled ‘Growing by Degrees’ on community engagement and the curriculum response to Sustainability. 
  • 2010 Jointly ran a workshop at AUDE Conference Belfast, on briefing and communication. 
  • 2011 Jury member for HEDQF Exhibition ‘small budget BIG IMPACT’ 
  • 2013 Assisted Julian Robinson, LSE with the ‘Estates Matter’ student survey on University estates.  
  • Also jointly delivered the ‘Small Projects top-tips’ workshop, for estates teams at Queens University Belfast 
  • 2015 Co-wrote the Masterplan chapter for the HEDQF’s book ‘Future Campus’, with our former chair, Emeritus Professor of Geography Philip Ogden. 
  • 2015- onwards Trustee and Research Group see output here

What does a good HE building mean to you – quote.  

A good University building is one that endures. The quality of the materials, spaces, light, views, and connections has strength above and beyond the immediate use. good and successful building is one that is, ‘long life, loose-fit and low-energy’ and allows people to thrive.

Future of learning: green or bleak?

Green. See the opinion survey of students views on sustainability to see a massive shift in expectations in response to the climate emergency, change is coming, and it’s exciting!  

Do you know your carbon footprint (

1.7 earths, 5.4 tonnes/yr  
Not sure what else I can do as an individual, we need national & global action. I have only flown twice in ten years, I’m vegan, didn’t have a car for several years and have a low energy house – circa 80% energy reduction

What would you have done if you weren’t an architect?

I would have trained as a naval architect and designed yachts, as I also used to build boats. 

Do you know the CO2 PPM the year you were born? 

1969: 324.62 ppm (2021 recently: 415.53 ppm)