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Alan Short

College positions:
Architecture, Sustainable Architecture
Department of Architecture

Professor C. Alan Short

Professor Alan Short read Architecture at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was awarded a Senior Scholarship, winning a postgraduate Exchange Fellowship at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard. He was appointed the 5th Professor of Architecture at Cambridge University in 2001, succeeding Sir Leslie Martin, Bill Howell and Sir Colin St John Wilson.

He leads a highly interdisciplinary group working on how to deliver very low carbon buildings and cities, assembled from across the University with colleagues from the Department of Applied Maths and Theoretical Physics, the BP Institute for Multiphase Fluid Flow, the Interdisciplinary Research Centre for Infectious Diseases, History of Art, Engineering and the Institute of Atmospheric Science with close collaborators in Imperial College, King’s College London, Loughborough and Reading. In China, he is a Ministry of Education Distinguished Professor, a Guest Professor at Zhejiang University and International Co-director of the National Centre for International Research in Low-carbon and Green Buildings based at Chongqing University.

Professor Short has built important sustainable buildings for real, winning the Green Building of the Year Prize, the RIBA President’s Research Award and numerous other professional prizes. His last major work was the passive-downdraught-cooled UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies in Bloomsbury at the centre of the London Urban Heat Island. He was the 2014 George Collins Fellow of the US Society of Architectural Historians and 2013-14 Geddes Fellow at the University of Edinburgh. His research group produced a film of its Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council-funded work on the adaptation potential of the NHS acute hospital estate, ‘Robust Hospitals in a Changing Climate’ which won the 2013 tv/e Global Sustainability Film Award. He was appointed to administer and monitor the National Health Service Energy Efficiency Fund 2013-15 with the Professor of Sustainable Engineering, reporting to the Under Secretary of State for Health and subsequently to write guidance on energy efficiency for the NHS.

He was the Principle Investigator for the UK-China EPSRC/NSFC funded ‘Low carbon climate-responsive heating and cooling of cities’ (LoHCool) 2015-19 focussing on carbon reduction opportunities in China’s Hot Summer-Cold Winter mega-cities. The film of the outcomes, ‘A Low Carbon Future for Cina’s Furnace Cities’ won the 2019 tv/e Global Sustainability Film Award. Rather surprisingly, it beat to the prize Sir David Attenborough’s film on whales. It also won Best Short Documentary at the Vegas Film Awards 2020. Professor Short also leads the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council project Excising Infection in Surgical Environments (ExISE), focused on the design of operating theatres.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Professor Short worked with the BP Professor and the Head of the Vet School on ‘Making Emergency Hospitals Safer’, and sat on the SAGE-EMG group advising DCMS on the reopening of theatres. A report on UK infrastructure’s resilience to infection, co-authored by Professor Short, was published by the National Engineering Policy Centre (NEPC). The risk of airborne cross-infection is now taken much more seriously.

The Higher Doctorate, the Doctor of Letters degree, Litt.D. was conferred on Professor Short by the Deputy Vice Chancellor in April 2023.

Select awards

  • Winner of the first ‘High Architecture, Low Energy Award’ 1995
  • Green Building of the Year 1995
  • The Society of College, National and University Librarians (SCONUL) ‘Best Academic Library Award’ 1998-2003 and ‘Commendation’ 2008
  • CIBSE’ Project of the Year’ in 2003 & 2004
  • CIBSE Environmental Initiative of the Year 2006;
  • BDA’ Building of the Year 2001′ and ‘Best Public Building 2006’
  • RIBA Awards in 1995, 2000, 2003 and 2006.

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