The Bartlett School of Architecture

Mr Oliver Wilton

Mr Oliver Wilton

Associate Professor of Environmental Design

The Bartlett School of Architecture

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
1st Mar 2011

Research summary

Oliver’s research addresses architecture and environmental design from a building component to a climate scale. Research to develop a Solid Cork Building Envelope was part funded by Innovate UK and EPSRC. It was undertaken with partners Matthew Barnett Howland, Professor Pete Walker at University of Bath, Amorim UK and Ty Mawr, with additional input from collaborators including Andrew Lawrence of Advanced Technology and Research, Arup, and BRE lab testing. The research contributed the development of the Cork Construction Kit, a viable new form of solid cork construction with extremely low whole life carbon. An article on this won the 2019 RIBA President’s Award for Design and Technical Research. An evolved version of the system has been utilised in the Cork House, by Matthew Barnett Howland, Dido Milne and Oliver Wilton, the first of its type, winner of several prizes including the RIBA Stephen Lawrence Prize, The Manser Medal, Wood Gold Award, RIBA National Award and RIBA South Sustainability Award.  It was shortlisted for the 2019 RIBA Stirling Prize. Interseasonal Architecture researches and proposes architecture that takes from one season and gives to another, in order to contribute to the current energy transition and also to exploit potentials for architectural delight relating to the resultant seasonal dynamics. Phase-Change Material (PCM) Thermal Stores, undertaken with Jake Hacker of Advanced Technology and Research, Arup, and with Nick Hopper, Technical Director at Monodraught, part funded by a UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources grant, investigates the role that building-integrated PCM thermal stores could play in the low energy thermal regulation of buildings across Europe. ‘Innovative Environmental Design Strategy...Did it Work?’, undertaken with Jake Hacker, undertakes design analysis and simple post-occupancy evaluation of some recent noteworthy buildings, comparing key intentions and outcomes. 

His past research activities have included contributing to major EU-funded research projects addressing Passive Downdraught Evaporative Cooling and Light/Vent Pipes and research on methods of teaching low energy building design to architects and engineers. In addition to his own research activities, Oliver plays an enabling role on environmental design and technology research at The Bartlett School of Architecture. Recent activities here have included co-ordinating research collaborations with Max Fordham LLP, collaboration with the UCL Faculty of Engineering Science as a part of the UCL RAEng Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Design, of which he is a co-director, and co-hosting a number of symposia on low impact forms of construction with the Alliance for Sustainable Building Products.

Teaching summary

Oliver has been teaching at The Bartlett School of Architecture for over twenty years, starting on a part-time basis in 2000. He deploys a creative, technical and responsive approach to teaching environmental design for architecture in contexts of advanced design ambition. His approach is that of active engagement in, and support of, the diverse academic agendas pursued by the School’s design units. He has taught in each year of the BSc Architecture programme and coordinated a Year 1 module. On the MArch Architecture programme he has been a research thesis tutor since 2001 and one of the coordinators of this module since 2014. He has also examined on the Part 3 programme. At undergraduate level his main focus has been on teaching environmental design at a building and component/assembly scale, with consideration of inhabitation, resource systems and whole life performance. At post-graduate level his teaching encompasses a broad range of architecture, environmental design and sustainability fields and scales, from city-scale microclimate moderation down to research and development of new construction materials and components. 

He has significant experience of teaching alongside engineers and building scientists on technically oriented programmes within UCL. From 2002 to 2015 he taught environmental design to postgraduate architecture and engineering students on the MSc Environmental Design Engineering programme at the UCL Institute of Environmental Design and Engineering. Here, students undertake design for passive regulation and use environmental simulation software to model successive iterations of their building designs, testing environmental design hypotheses against project ambitions and quantitative targets. From 2013 to 2015 he taught architecture, environmental design and sustainability to engineering students, utilising design studio teaching methods on the MEng Civil Engineering programme in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, UCL Faculty of Engineering Sciences. This included teaching the fundamentals of environmental design to Year 2 students in a week-long Scenario project and teaching complex design synthesis methodologies to teams of Year 4 students in their year-long Integrated Design Project.

Oliver has been a part-time or visiting academic at ten other universities in the UK and Europe. This includes acting as Diploma Unit Master at the University of Cambridge, a part-time Senior Lecturer at the University of East London and a design and thesis tutor on the MA Architecture programme at Aarhus School of Architecture, Denmark.


Oliver is Associate Professor of Environmental Design at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, where he is responsible for leading academic agendas in environmental design across the School. This is a complex, cross-cutting field and Oliver’s research, teaching and consultancy cover diverse matters including operational environmental and energy performance, inhabitation, material technology and the development of new forms of construction. This is informed by over two decades of experience in practice as an architect and adviser on complex projects and by his research and consultancy on building design and performance. 

Oliver is the current Director of Technology, appointed in 2019, working with the Chair, Director of School and colleagues in developing, augmenting and leading the School’s strategy for technology in architecture. This involves harnessing the School’s reputation for innovation in technology and offering support to new initiatives, ways of thinking and future strategies. 

From 2014 to 2019 he served as the inaugural Director of Education, working with colleagues including the Chair, Director of School and Vice-Dean Education on strategic education matters and the academic planning, development and performance of the School. This was a period of significant change and evolution, including moving into expanded and upgraded accommodation at 22 Gordon Street, developing a presence at the new UCL facility at Here East and developing and delivering eight innovative new taught masters programmes that draw on expertise within the School and more broadly within UCL. MEng Engineering and Architectural Design is an interdisciplinary 4-year integrated masters developed and delivered in partnership with the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering and the UCL Institute of Environmental Design Engineering; MLA and MA Landscape Architecture were developed in liaison with the Landscape Institute, and the Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) is a new UCL qualification; MArch and MSc Bio-integrated Design are two new 21-month programmes developed and delivered in partnership with the Department of Biochemical Engineering; MArch Design for Performance and Interaction, MArch Design for Manufacture and MA Situated Practice are highly tailored 15-month programmes utilising the unique facilities at UCL at Here East.

In addition to his work in academia, Oliver has over 20 years of experience working as an architect and environmental design consultant in practice, with involvement on a range of innovative and award-winning built projects. He has co-founded a small practice and worked for a number of progressive companies including Brian Ford & Associates, Studio E Architects, Foster & Partners and RH Partnership. He also undertakes specialist consultancy including acting as a technical assessor for the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy from 2008 to 2019 and delivering Sustainable Urban Development consultancy to the Taiwanese government with UCL colleagues in 2014.