about

Neil Stacey is Associate Professor in Architecture at the Leicester School of Architecture, part of the Faculty of Art Design & Humanities at DeMontfort University (DMU):-

I am currently Subject Head for Architecture. In recent years I have contributed to almost all roles at DMU Leicester School of Architecture, including Acting Head of School. Amongst other things, I am currently –

  • Subject Head Architecture;
  • co-founder and active member of Leicester Urban Observatory, a cross-discipline working forum for collaboration between DeMontfort, Leicester and Loughborough Universities and Leicester City Council;
  • member of the Leicester Conservation Advisory Panel
  • researching architecture + well being, as part of the Cities & Urbanism theme in DMU’s Architecture Research Institute;
  • UK registered architect (ARB no. 061830F) & member of the RIBA (membership no. 9180662)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Prior to joining Leicester School of Architecture (DMU), I worked briefly for Nottingham Trent University (NTU). I joined NTU from architectural practice to assist in the creation of their BA undergraduate programme in architecture. This experience developed my passion for teaching and, whilst I actively retain my understanding of practice, I have not looked back. Being an educator is a joy and privilege.

I joined DMU in 2018. My love and enthusiasm for teaching is reflected in the award of DMU’s Vice Chancellors Distinguished Teaching Award in both 2013 and 2017. The award is based upon the votes and comments of students. Twelve awards have been made each year since 2005. I am one of a small group of staff to have won the award on more than one occasion (there are approximately 900 academic staff at DMU).

Prior to stepping into academia I worked in architectural practice in Perth (Scotland), Sheffield, London, Bristol and briefly in Leicester. My interest in education was ever present. In practice I contributed as a guest critic to both the University of Bath and University of Sheffield, as well as engaging in the ‘Homes for Heroes’ secondary school education initiative in Bristol. Early professional practice work at the Bond Bryan in Sheffield included a number of ‘big sheds’ and other ‘fast’ projects; three buildings were designed and constructed, or near completion, within 18 months. This early experience fuelled self-reflection upon my architectural education, prompting the question: “how well was I prepared for this?”. At Bond Bryan I also worked on commissions for Sheffield Hallam University, including aspects of Howard Street + Howard Square landscaping design.

In London I was the project lead for the refurbishment of the Grade II listed Piccadilly Underground Ticket Hall (Charles Holden design); this served as my case study project for securing RIBA Part III qualification. I went on to work for ORMS, London, on Greenalls Brewery Malthouse Building in Warrington and the Manchester School of Management (see ‘Managing a Miracle’ by Frank Duffy, RIBA Journal October 1998 and University Architecture by Brian Edwards, pg 131). Reluctantly I left ORMS to move to Bristol – albeit for positive, personal reasons.

In Bristol I initially worked for Smith Roberts Associates, working on RIBA Regional Award winning projects Aberystwyth Arts Centre and Dursley Doctors Surgery. I then joined Alec French Architects, were I became an Associate. At Alec French I worked on, amongst other things, Capricorn Quay, Fishguard Invasion Centre (unbuilt) and most notably Bristol City Learning Centres, for which Alec French won the Prime Ministers Better Public Building Award in 2002.

Whilst in Bristol I spent two years on ‘sabbatical’ from architectural practice, working for the environmental NGO Sustrans. At Sustrans, whilst I oversaw the National Cycling Network routes and other projects in Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire, my primary focus was as Project Manager for Sustrans’ partner role in VIVALDI, an EU CIVITAS funded project lead by Bristol City Council.  VIVALDI’s partner cities, Bristol, Bremen, Nantes, Aalborg and Kaunas, developed and implemented innovative transport/ mobility projects aimed at creating cleaner, better cities. This experience, and the knowledge gained, underpins my interest and research into architecture and well-being.

My primary contribution to VIVALDI was as design lead for the Dings Home Zone. The design of ‘the Dings’ was supported by an extensive community involvement, which transformed my understanding of community design and consultation and the role of the architect. I remain a strong advocate of community involvement and critically question the idea of ‘design authorship’ in the way it is championed in UK architectural education. The community involvement secured additional funds to significantly extend the project to include a public arts project . It also persuaded Barratt Homes to invest energy and money into adopting the Dings Home Zone ideas into their adjacent new development. Consequently ‘the Dings’ is, or at least was at the time of completion, the largest retrofit + new build home zone in the UK. At the time of construction the Dings was also the largest sustainable urban drainage (SUDS) retrofit scheme in the UK. ‘The Dings’, and the expertise in naked street design that underpinned it, led to Sustrans being a member of the Department of Transport’s Working Group on Home Zones.

The Dings was used as the foundation stone for the creation of Sustrans’ ‘Liveable Neighbourhoods’, a stream of activity aimed at providing urban design and community involvement consultancy and advice. Liveable Neighbourhoods championed urban design based upon liveable, walkable cities and sustainable transport infrastructures. I led Sustrans’ Liveable Neighbourhoods contribution to Bristol City Council’s New Deal for Communities work in Barton Hill and went on to work in partnership with Swindon Borough Council in the development of the EU funded Streets for Living project, in which Swindon partnered Hilversum (NL) and La Courneuve (Paris, F). I continued my role in Streets for Living as a consultant when I left Sustrans to return to architectural practice in Leicester. This return, as Associate Director, running a small office in Leicester for a national firm of architects, included design work for Leicester’s Newarke Houses Museum and New Walk Museum. I continued my Streets for Living consultant role when I joined Nottingham Trent University (NTU), where Streets for Living was one of two outputs I contributed to NTU’s RAE return (RAE – predecessor of REF).

Since joining DMU in January 2008, I have taught in all years of Leicester School of Architecture’s RIBA Part 1 and Part 2 courses, and our Part 3 programme; I have been an internal examiner for the School’s RIBA Part 3 continuously since 2008. At various times – and simultaneously in many cases – I have been Acting Head of School or Associate Head of School, Subject Head for Undergraduate Architecture, BA Programme Leader, BA3 Year Leader, BA2 Year Leader, BA2 Technology Leader, BA Professional Practice Leader, MArch Professional Practice Leader, School Academic Practice Officer, School representative on the Faculty Learning and Teaching Committee, School Library Liaison ….. and other academic or School management leadership roles.

I was made an Associate Professor in Architecture in March 2017. My Associate Professor role is in ‘teaching and learning’. Recent ‘extra-curricular’ teaching and learning activity has included a cross-discipline, cross-institute teaching pilot with Dr. Robert Harland at Loughborough University School of Design, in which post-graduate Architecture and post-graduate Visualisation and Graphic Design students were co-taught in order to explore ideas of how inter-discipline collaboration can assist is developing research depth, rigour and clarity.

I regularly contribute as a guest critic to other UK Schools of Architecture – I have recently reviewed at Sheffield, Nottingham Trent and UCL/ Bartlett. I have recently been a competition juror for RIBA East Midlands RIBA Awards 2017, as well as ‘Soar Island’ RIBA Design Competition.