I am Reader in Regenerative Structures & Materials at the School of Architecture and Cities, University of Westminster. I write about architecture, technology and Construction History and I have co-authored five books with colleague Pete Silver including Structural Engineering for Architects: A Handbook, Laurence King 2014, Air Structures, Laurence King 2015 and Introduction to Architectural Technology, Laurence King, the 3rd edition of which was published in 2021. My most recent co-authored publication with Pete Silver is entitled Environmental Design Sourcebook: innovative design ideas for a sustainable built environment, and was published in August 2021 by RIBA Publishing. I am currently co-authoring a book about sustainable and regenerative materials for architecture.
I was was a co-editor of Construction History: International Journal of the Construction History Society (2016-2021). Between 2005 and 2010 I wrote a column for Architectural Design (AD) entitled McLean's Nuggets, which appeared in over 30 issues of the magazine. In 2008 I established the architectural imprint Bibliotheque McLean, publishing new titles including Sabbioneta: Cryptic City by James Madge (2011), which was awarded a commendation in the RIBA presidents medals for research in 2012, Quik Build: Adam Kalkin's ABC of Container Architecture (2008).
My doctoral thesis Technological Innovation in Architecture: The Role of the Aberrant Practitioner, analysed the unique contribution of the 'Innovative Entrepreneur' to architecture and construction. Research included the construction automation work of Dante Bini and his development of the Binishell family of construction systems. Published outputs include the editing and publishing of the first English language book on the work of Bini. McLean, W., ed., (2014) Building With Air: Dante Bini. London: Bibliotheque McLean, McLean, W. I am currently completing a monograph about the work of the Italian architect and inventor Dante Bini. Dante Bini: Architect, due for publication in 2023 by Bibliotheque McLean.
The 'Innovative Entrepreneur' project also included research into the work of artist Graham Stevens (pneumatic / inflatable / environmental art), architects Adam Kalkin (prefabrication / building with shipping containers) and Fritz Haller (systems building) and structural engineer Tim Macfarlane (structural glass). Current research outputs include interviews, published articles, papers and books. McLean, W. 2017. Building with Glass: Tim Macfarlane and the Development of Glass as a Load-bearing Structural Element. Campbell, J. (ed.) Fourth Annual Construction History Society Conference. Queens' College Cambridge 07 to end of 09 Apr 2017 Construction History Society. McLean, W., (2015) Graham Stevens: Atmospheric Industries. AA Files: Annals of the Architectural Association School of Architecture 70, pp 138–143. McLean, W., ed. (2008). Quik Build: Adam Kalkin’s ABC of Container Architecture. London: Bibliotheque McLean.
Ongoing research is focused on the early history and application of pneumatic / air structures in architecture. Recent publications in this field include: McLean, W. Silver, P., (2015) Air Structures. London: Laurence King. Sixth International Congress on Construction History in Brussels (2018) on the work of Frederick Lanchester and The Development of the Air-Supported Structure.
Current Book Projects
Co-authoring a book with Pete Silver about Sustainable and Regenerative Materials for Architecture for Laurence King Publishing. Publication 2024.
Contributing a chapter on Building and Construction for A Cultural History of Craft in the Modern Age edited by Clive Edwards and published by Bloomsbury Academic. Publication 2024.
Researching for a future publication on the work of Scottish architectural practice Gratton and McLean, the architects of the Barrowland Ballroom in Glasgow (1960), Castlemilk West Church (1957) and works for the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board.
Cataloguing the work of artist Bruce McLean in preparation for a monograph of his work.