Professor Alan Short

Subject: Sustainable Architecture

Department/institution: Department of Architecture

Contact details:

Professor C. Alan Short MA, Dip.Arch., PhD (Cantab)

Professor Alan Short was a Senior Scholar at Trinity College Cambridge with a spell as Exchange Fellow 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, Kings 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. He 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' at which won the tv/e Global Sustainability Film Award 2013. 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 the 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 tv/e Global Sustainability Film Award for 2019: Rather surprisingly, it beat David Attenborough's film on whales to the prize. It has just won Best Short Documentary at the Vegas Film Awards 2020, and he looks forward to collecting the statuette in 2021. He currently leads the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council project Excising Infection in Surgical Environments (ExISE) focussed on the design of operating theatres with the BP Professor, colleagues in Infectious Diseases, Medicine and History of Art with the support of the Royal College of Surgeons. Through the COVID-19 epidemic, he has been working with the BP Professor and the Head of the Vet School on 'Making Emergency Hospitals Safer', investigating airborne infection risks in adapting marriage halls in India, applicable to all emergency adaptations. The Cambridge news item and the film of the experiments and designs are on the University website at and

The findings were reported on the front page of the Daily Telegraph on 28th April beneath a huge picture of Boris Johnson. The risk of airborne cross-infection is now taken very much more seriously, and he has been sitting on the SAGE-EMG group advising DCMS on the reopening of theatres.


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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