The Bartlett School of Architecture

Dr Guan Lee

Dr Guan Lee

Associate Professor

The Bartlett School of Architecture

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
1st Jul 2012

Research summary

My research is multi-disciplinary, working across material innovation, fabrication technologies digital and manual, theory and practice. 


Grymsdyke Farm is now firmly recognised as a pioneering facility for learning and teaching across multiple disciplines: architecture, design, art; tackling issues of sustainability in materiality and craftmanship; and reaching participants local and international. I am also Co-Director of Material Architecture Lab (MAL) at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. Its research concerns material ecology in architectural production. Through architectural competitions and projects, I am able to translate and scale up design research into architectural application, such as the first Robotically 3D printed tiles for the Victoria and Albert Museum. This permanent architectural intervention at the V&A, using 3D-printed clay, had not been trialled at such a large scale before and features innovation of ceramic within an architectural fabric.


My broader research in architectural ceramic has been disseminated through public exhibitions, lectures and written publications. Notably, the ‘Life of Clay’ exhibition at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and The Architecture Centre in Bristol which was listed by The Guardian as one of the best exhibitions of 2017. My research also goes beyond traditional materials.  I am for instance consistently pushing the boundaries for sustainable use of recycled and plant-based materials. My research employs a mixture of digital and manual techniques, and as such it covers specific ground in design that values human skill in contemporary processes of fabrication – in doing so it also is able to engage school-age pupils in this field.


In terms of Open Science/Open Access, a chapter that I have written was contained in an edited book published by UCL Press and thus is freely available – as indeed is a chapter I wrote for an edited book on research-based architectural education.

Teaching summary

My teaching spans across many institutions in London and elsewhere, and ranges from from undergraduate to postgraduate students, architectural theory to design and fabrication. My unique pedagogical position is situated between theory and making in architecture. I teach students how to use digital fabrication tools, material science together with craft theories. Production, whether digital or manual, requires grounding in history and culture, be it environmental, social and political, and so I also supervise architectural history and theory dissertations. 


In terms of the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, over the last 10 years I have taught over 500 students in Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 1), MArch Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 2), MArch Architectural Design plus I am also qualified as a PhD supervisor. My teaching contribution outside of the Bartlett has also been substantial, including the Royal College of Art, Architectural Association, Westminster University and Buckinghamshire University. Students that I have taught have won awards in two RIBA Silver Medal competitions. At Grymsdyke Farm, I have likewise offered my expertise in material design and digital fabrication to students and tutors of over 50 institutions, architecture and design at all levels of study – these include each of the major universities/institutions in London, such as the Architectural Association, plus others across the UK including Cambridge University, and internationally including the University of Pennsylvania.


My teaching at Grymsdyke Farm, outside of university education, also reaches school children, adult educational centres, construction professionals, and craft groups of various interests and backgrounds. I do so because I believe that diversity and inclusivity in terms of age groups and abilities can allow people to learn and teach one another.  


Dr. Guan Lee is Lecturer of Architecture and co-director of Material Architecture Lab at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. He is also tutor in Architecture at the Royal College of Art, where he teaches a postgraduate studio, ADS6. His practice, Grymsdyke Farm, is set in the Chilterns in Buckinghamshire, about 35 miles northwest of London. The farm is composed of a house, a series of outbuildings, a walled vegetable garden and a small orchard. The farmhouse remains residential but the other buildings are converted into workshops and studios. Grymsdyke Farm’s motivating concept is to establish and explore the value of living/working arrangements that involve intimate engagement with materials and processes of making. Lee’s practice engage in a wide range of design fabrication, digital and analogue. Guan Lee has a BSc. in Architecture from McGill University, Montreal, Canada (1997), an Architectural Association (AA) Diploma (1999) and an MSc. Landscape Urbanism (2003), also from the AA, and completed his PhD by Design (2013) at the Bartlett, UCL.