Mr Alastair Blyth

Mr Alastair Blyth

I am an architect and with a specific research interest in learning environments, I also have an interest in professional practice in architecture. My personal blog site is Re-imagining Spaces for Learning. I also have a website for the book I am co-authoring: Integrative Briefing for Better Design.

I am Assistant Head of School, School of Architecture and Cities; Co-course Leader for Professional Practice Architecture, the RIBA Part post-graduate programme; Chair of DCDI College Research and Knowledge Exchange Ethics Committee.

Currently I am a member of the Academic Alliance team on the Innovative Learning Environments + Student Engagement project  - University of Melbourne. I also run the Project on Architectural Student Employment Outcomes (PASEO) study which is collecting and analysing data on the employment conditions of early career architectural practitioners.

Before joining the University of Westminster in June 2016, I was an analyst at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in the Directorate for Education and Skills where my work focused on policy advice for governments on the design, procurement and evaluation of learning environments. I also was also the Education directorate lead on the OECD cross-directorate project on the OECD Green Growth Strategy. With a particular interest in higher education policy, I was chair of Education Outlook on Higher Education in Australia: 2009. 

At the OECD I was responsible for several international surveys and policy reviews including:

An OECD survey on learning environments resulting in the publication “Designing for Education: Compendium of exemplary Educational Facilities 2011” which draws examples from 28 countries including Australasia, Latin America, US, Canada and Europe. 

Country policy reviews in Portugal and Mexico on the effectiveness of school building modernisation and renovation programmes

An OECD project on Higher Education Spaces and Places: for learning, innovation and knowledge exchange;

OECD report on “Capital Funding in Educational Facilities: The role of public-private partnerships”. 

Seconded as an analyst to the International Energy Agency (2011), I managed a survey of IEA member and BRICS countries on policies, regulations, and economic incentives on energy efficiency in buildings. My team won the Euro Mediterranean Energy Efficiency Forum innovator award for a database on building energy efficiency policies. 

Earlier career and immediately before joining the OECD, I was a senior lecturer at the University of Westminster (2003 to 2007) where I was teaching on the Professional Practice programme and being the course leader for Architectural Technology; and module leader for Masters the in Design Management.

After architectural practice, I was an assistant editor on the Architects Journal and Managing Editor of Directories at Maxwell Business communications.

I have a research interest in learning environments. A key theme of my work is how the physical environment supports the needs of learning, and does this effectively. My work covers all levels of education and includes advising designers, policy makers and educators on how to create physical learning environments to support the needs of education.

I am also developing a further research programme on the impact of the learning environment and engaging teachers in the use of spaces in schools and universities.

To support the professional practice programme, I am developing a survey of architectural practice to collect data on the changing nature of practice.

I am currently working on a new book: "Integrative Briefing for Better Design" with three co-authors (John Worthington, Fiona Young and Hiral Patel). The book is a follow-on from "Managing the Brief for Better Design" (2001; 2nd Ed 2010), Routledge. However, we have shifted the narrative from 'briefing' to 'enabling change', this focus is more in terms of co-creation and co-design so that the user/client has much more agency in the process than they usually get.

I also run the Project on Architectural Student Employment Outcomes (PASEO) study which is collecting and analysing data on the employment conditions of early career architectural practitioners.

  • Design Practices
  • Architectural Humanities