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Philip Oldfield

02 9065 2436

Philip Oldfield is Head of School at UNSW Built Environment, having previously been the Director of the Architecture program.

Prior to joining UNSW, Philip was the co-creator and Course Director of the MArch in Sustainable Tall Buildings at the University of Nottingham, UK – the world’s only course and qualification dedicated to the design and research of high-rise architecture. He has also taught at universities in Chicago, Venice and Singapore. 

Philip’s research interests are focused primarily on tall building design, sustainability, liveability and embodied carbon. He is an active member of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), and is author of the book “The Sustainable Tall Building: A Design Primer” published by Taylor and Francis in 2019. He has led over $1 million of funded research projects with diverse inter-disciplinary teams from industry and academia, tackling issues varying from how we use evidence to create high performance buildings, to strategies to simultaneously reduce embodied carbon and cost in buildings. He was a guest editor for Energy and Buildings on a special issue dedicated to embodied carbon, and has also published in The Journal of Architecture, Architectural Science Review, Solar Energy, A+U, Emotion Space and Society and more.

He has a passion for teaching in higher education, across both architectural studio and seminar courses, and has been recognised as a Scientia Education Fellow at UNSW. In addition, he is a British Science Association Media Fellow and regularly writes articles for Architecture Australia, Architects’ Journal, the Guardian and many other publications. He is a guest editor of a special edition of Architecture Australia dedicated to 'Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure', published in September 2019.

Research activities

Philip's research is concerned with exploring and improving the sustainable performance of high-rise architecture and high-density cities. More specifically, his research is engaged with three primary themes:
1. The environmental performance of tall buildings and dense cities: Identifying and developing architectural and technological strategies to improve the performance of high-rise architecture and dense cities to contribute to reduced global carbon emissions.
2. Embodied carbon and material sustainability in large and tall buildings: Identifying the contribution of embodied carbon to buildings’ total carbon footprint. Developing design strategies, technologies and mechanisms to reduce embodied carbon in buildings.
3. Social sustainability and liveability in tall buildings: High-rise architecture can only contribute to reduced carbon emissions if the typology offers attractive and equitable places to live. As such, this research explores the narratives and experiences of those who live and work in tall buildings. It seeks to develop design strategies and governance mechanisms to improve these experiences.