Peter Barrett MSc PhD DSc

Independent academic, UK


Peter is an Emeritus Professor of Property and Construction Management in the School of the Built Environment at Salford University in the UK and an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Education at Oxford University.  He has researched widely in strategic construction management issues over the years, including the issue of how the value of construction is realized in society. This latter interest has, over the last ten years grown into a focused interest in the impact of physical spaces on the occupants of buildings, with a particular focus on schools and impacts on learning.  In 2015 the HEAD (Holistic Evidence and Design) Project delivered for the first time strong evidence of the holistic impact of classrooms on pupils’ learning rates. This work was infirmed by links with ANFA, but more particularly John Zeisel and Tom Albright. A range of freely available outputs can be accessed This work has more recently led to a range of consultancy commissions with particular schools, but also at a governmental level, eg in Norway and, via the World Bank, in Romania.

ANFA Themes

Peter has been a member of the ANFA Advisory Council since 2013 and has a particular interest in linking N-S ideas and design at a meta level of analysis.  He wrote a blog for ANFA to this effect and feels strongly that the dialogue has to be two way to realize its full potential.

ANFA Themes

In 2005, I joined ANFA’s program of Research Associates established to train a handful of emerging architects in neuroscience, and neuroscientists in architecture, so that we might build bridges between the disciplines. One of my responsibilities was to coordinate ANFA’s workshops bringing together key players in neuroscience and architecture around a central topic to investigate convergence points for potential research studies. Cultivating a common vocabulary was critical to the success of these workshops and partnerships. During my time with ANFA, I acquired lab experience at KIDLAB, George Mason University. Using behavioral paradigms and fMRI technology, we examined context effects on attention and reasoning across populations prone to compromised executive function. My research examining distractions, context dependent emotional regulation and environmental interventions, builds on this formative experience. As a university faculty member, I promoted ANFA’s mission in my human factors courses by updating environmental psychology pedagogy to include new neuroscience knowledge describing human-environment relationships. I advocate that design education be reconsidered to prepare future designers in evidence-based design. In an effort to promote inclusive design which prioritizes human diversity across physical, sensory and cognitive abilities, I participated as co-PI in an NEA-funded initiative to integrate universal design into university curricula. I am most grateful to ANFA for granting me a pioneering role in shaping neuroarchitecture, which resulted in the opportunity to train hundreds of students to be better designers by virtue of this knowledge, and to have spearheaded research in this emerging discipline.

Select Publications

P. Barrett, F. Davies, Y. Zhang and L. Barrett (2015), The impact of classroom design on pupils’ learning: Final results of a holistic, multi-level analysis. Building and Environment, Vol 89 (2015) pp118-133.

P. Barrett, Y. Zhang, F. Davies and L. Barrett (2015), Clever Classrooms: Summary Report of the HEAD Project, University of Salford, Salford.

P. Barrett (2018) “Lessons from schools for productive office environments: the SIN model” in Creating the Productive Workplace: Places to Work Creatively, edited by Derek Clements-Croome, Routledge, Abingdon, Third Edition, Chapter 7, pp111-24.