Neil Stacey is Associate Professor at the Leicester School of Architecture, part of the Faculty of Art Design + Humanities at DeMontfort University (DMU).
In recent years I have contributed to almost all roles at DMU Leicester School of Architecture, including Acting Head of School during 2017. Amongst other things, I am
- 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;
- director of Leicester Atelier, part of the School’s Architecture Research Group;
- member of the Leicester Conservation Advisory Panel
- currently researching architecture + well being
- UK registered architect (ARB no. 061830F)
- member of the RIBA (membership no. 9180662)
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 the BA undergraduate programme in architecture. Having developed a passion for teaching, I joined DMU in 2008. In 2013 and 2017 I was awarded the Vice Chancellors Distinguished Teaching Award, an award based upon the votes and comments of students. 12 awards have been made each year since 2005; of the +150 awards given thus far, I am one of only 26 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. Along with partner cities Bremen, Nantes, Aalborg and Kuanas, VIVALDI 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 concept designer / 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; I remain a strong advocate of community involvement way beyond that which uk Planning deems sufficient and most uk clients and architects consider appropriate. 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 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’ contributing to the Department of Transport’s Working Group on Home Zones; along with Peter Lipman I contributed to this Working Group.
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 predicated on liveable, walkable cities and sustainable transport infrastructures and, in relation to naked street design, ideas of how to achieve much with minimal spend (see Sustrans DIY Streets projects). Liveable Neighbourhoods contributed 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, with Swindon partnering 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 been an internal examiner for the School’s RIBA Part 3 continuously since 2008. I continue to contribute to all of the School’s three RIBA validated programmes. 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 regularly contribute as a competition juror – most recently for RIBA East Midlands RIBA Awards 2017.