School of Art, Design and Fashion

Professor Craig Lee Martin

Professor of Architecture

Professor Craig Martin is an internationally renowned and award-winning architect. During his career he has established a reputation for innovative feats of design which champion sustainability and bring tangible benefits to communities.

Craig Lee Martin

Craig joined the University in 2017. He is concerned with architecture which is not only inventive but which also seeks to address the challenges posed by major societal issues such as global climate change and overreliance on environmentally destructive forms of energy. His research interests are focused on advancing urban design, technology and sustainability. Recent publications have contributed to major projects on sustainable cities, carbon-neutral initiatives and zero-energy solutions.

Craig has firm ambitions for his new role at the University of Central Lancashire. Above all, he is seeking to ensure that a commitment to benefiting surrounding communities is formally embedded in everything that students and researchers undertake. This ethos will be reflected in the coursework that students undertake on the road to achieving their degree: “They won’t just be asked to undertake academic work for its own sake. Instead they will invest their time and skills in coming up with inspired solutions to real-world problems. Everything we engage in – from project sites to research to our overall strategic vision – will extend beyond academia and concentrate on being beneficial to wider society.”

Under his leadership Craig believes that the Grenfell-Baines Institute should adopt a ‘glocal’ outlook – engaging in collaborative projects and transferring skills and knowledge across geographical boundaries while remaining firmly embedded in its local context by serving the City of Preston and contributing to a growing and thriving regional economy. “Being too local or too global can be isolating,” explains Craig. “By positioning ourselves ‘glocally’ we can integrate the advantages of the local – contextual knowledge, experience and stakeholder engagement – with the benefits of being plugged into an international network of diverse communities, world-class specialisms and knowledge exchange. We ought to be locally active, but our mandate should extend to benefiting communities and industries at city, regional, national and international scales.”

Although the Grenfell-Baines Institute is a relatively small academic department, Craig believes that its size can play a key role in its future success: “Our small size can actually be a great asset. It allows us to cultivate a sharper identity and to be more flexible and effective when the energies of staff and students are deployed strategically. Our students and researchers have access to world-class facilities and equipment which can be harnessed to inform the hands-on, real-world, philanthropic and ‘glocal’ philosophy of our course content.

Alongside his new role at the University of Central Lancashire, Craig works jointly with the Faculty of Architecture at Delft University of Technology (TUD) in the Netherlands, an institution whose mission entails conceiving technological solutions which will contribute towards a thriving economy while retaining an ethos of sustainability. His students frequently undertake real-world architectural challenges and competitive scenarios which push their skills and knowledge to their limits and enable them to develop the industry-leading skills they will need to tackle the architectural and societal challenges of the future.

In 2014 Craig led his TUD students to international success at the prestigious Solar Decathlon, the largest student competition in the world, which challenged entrants from 20 world-leading institutions to construct a sustainable house inside ten days and go head-to-head in ten intensive architectural contests over a two-week period. Craig’s students triumphed with their entry ‘Home-with-a-Skin’ which retrofitted an existing home into a zero-energy building. Its innovations included a steel and glass porch surround with windows which can be closed in winter to facilitate a ‘greenhouse effect’ which heats the entire building, allowing its occupants to cultivate plants during the harshest of winter climes. During the summer months the windows can be opened, creating cooling ventilation. Solar panels adoring the roof can generate sufficient ‘green’ electricity to service the daily lives of its residents. The project drew widespread acclaim. More than 250,000 people flocked to the Solar Decathlon and the Dutch government subsequently selected Craig’s winning entry as an exemplar project in their ‘Energy Leap’ initiative to promote innovative energy solutions for homes. His ‘Home-with-a-Skin’ has been extensively researched and reported on throughout its ongoing residency at TUD’s ‘Green Village’ campus. The project garnered five prestigious industry awards, including the coveted ‘Sustainability Contest Award’ and the ‘Communications and Social Awareness Award.’

Craig’s academic career took off after he gained a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from the University of Manchester in 1995. In 2006 he was awarded a Doctoral qualification from Manchester School of Architecture (MSA) following the submission of his PhD which examined the development and generation of sustainable communities within post-industrial cities. By 2015 he was firmly established as one of the leading thinkers on harnessing innovative urban architecture to meet the challenges posed by major societal and environmental issues. His ongoing research was selected by the Die Natalis organisation committee to be presented at the prestigious 173rd Dies Natalis (TUD foundation day) celebrations before an audience of internationally respected pioneers in the field of ‘smart city’ thought leadership.

Craig continues to lead major collaborative projects in the field. The ‘City-zen’ Project has been awarded 20 million euros in funding over five years to promote smart solutions in sustainable urban design. Craig leads the ‘City-zen Roadshow’ a highly impactful element of the overall project involving high profile collaborations with ten leading cities, the project has been commended as ‘remarkable’ by the European Policy Commission for its pioneering work and contribution to society. Craig played a key role in the 2012 bid proposal as part of the European Network for Sustainable Regions (ENSR), a collective of Professors and sustainability experts drawn from TUD and other educational institutions leading the field in ‘smart cities’ research.

Craig is excited by his new role at the University of Central Lancashire. He says: “I’m relishing the chance to engage more students in ‘live’ architectural challenges which have the potential to benefit the community of Preston, the whole region and beyond. Through studying at the University’s Grenfell-Baines Institute of Architecture they will gain invaluable experience which will enable them to develop their skills in teamwork, negotiation, communication and creativity. We will give them the best possible grounding for a future career where they will be called upon to solve some of the greatest challenges facing our society. They will not only transform their career prospects but potentially change the world too.”