skip to primary navigationskip to content

Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment

A part-time Master's course from the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership

Studying at Cambridge

From St Paul’s to Singapore - an architectural education

last modified Jan 25, 2018 12:24 PM
25 January 2018 – Jason Pomeroy, award-winning architect and author, reflects on the impact of studying CISL’s Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment (IDBE) Master's. Now at the forefront of the sustainable built environment agenda, Jason discusses how the course gave him greater appreciation and understanding of different built-environment agendas, allowing him to be more influential in the boardroom and also provided a vehicle for him to develop his academic skills.

Architecture and design have always been in my DNA. I decided this was going to be my vocation when, aged eight, my father took me to visit St Paul’s Cathedral in London. After experiencing this magnificent structure my passion was ignited and I became eager to find out more about the life of Sir Christopher Wren.

Another memory of Wren’s legacy came when I was visiting Trinity College Library whilst studying at Cambridge. Its loftiness and enormous windows flooded the interior with light, and embraced principles of passive design that have been close to my heart throughout my architectural education and into my practice today.

Interdisciplinary collaboration

After qualifying as an architect, I began my career in the modernist architectural firm YRM, before joining Japanese development, construction, engineering and design conglomerate, Kajima. Whilst there, I came into contact with a range of people from across the construction industry all working under one roof. This multi-disciplinary environment really appealed to me, and opened my eyes to interdisciplinary collaborative work practices.

This experience inspired me to enroll as a student on the Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment (IDBE) Master's in 2003; a course considered to be the premier sustainable design / sustainability leadership qualification for the built environment industry.

Lateral sources of inspiration

The IDBE cohort was made up of like-minded individuals, all focused on the sustainability agenda but from different backgrounds. When you are in an environment where there are so many lateral sources of inspiration and so many bright minds who can really spur your interests even further, you feel constantly enriched.

I was impressed with the sheer breadth of skills, disciplines and expertise in both the educators and the students within my cohort that ranged from a barrister, to architects, contractors, project managers and engineers. They provided a real source of inspiration and perspective within a forum that made me look outside my chosen field to see how the wider green agenda was affecting other disciplines.

For me, the IDBE wasn’t just about networking with like-minded individuals from across the industry – it also provided a vehicle to conduct my advanced research that would lead to a thesis on the socio-spatial role of Skycourts and Skygardens, a subsequent PhD in the subject; and eventually to my book ‘The Skycourt to Skygarden: Greening the Urban Habitat.’

A broader frame of reference

The course also taught me to question more authoritatively. It gave me a greater appreciation, and understanding, of different built-environment agendas that allowed me to be far more influential in the boardroom and in more complex interdisciplinary project situations.

The course not only gave me a grounding in interdisciplinary practice but also a vehicle to hone my academic skills and paved the way to be becoming a published author and tenured professor at the University of Nottingham and James Cook University.

Following the course, I joined Broadway Malyan and established their Singapore office. I grew the company from three to 70 people over four years, after which I left to set up Pomeroy Studio in 2012.

Sustainability thought leaders

The Pomeroy Studio comprises of an international team of master planners, architects, interior and graphic designers and researchers who are designers and thought leaders of sustainable built environments. We recently completed the first carbon negative house in Singapore – it’s acting like a green power station but we were able to demonstrate that it costs the same amount to build as an average house in the area. We are now bringing the concept to a low-cost housing development in the Philippines.

I have also established Pomeroy Properties, specialising in sustainability and real estate consultancy. More recently, I have become a TV presenter on programmes related to Cities, Buildings, Landscapes and Interiors. The series examines past, present and future cities, providing a commentary on what makes them sustainable and whether technology can enhance people’s lives within these cities.

I am privileged that through my work I am able to lead on the sustainable built environment agenda. This would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the IDBE course at CISL.

I hope we are going to see more influential practitioners from an interdisciplinary background who can wield greater influence at a policy level to achieve the common need for more sustainable, low energy, low water designs that enhance people’s lives. 


Submit your application or  if you'd like to discuss the Master's.

Discover how previous IDBE graduates have used the course to accelerate their career.

Professor Jason Pomeroy

Professor Jason Pomeroy is an award-winning architect, academic, author and TV personality at the forefront of the sustainable built environment agenda.

He graduated with Bachelor and Postgraduate degrees with distinction from the Canterbury School of Architecture; received a Master’s degree from the University of Cambridge, and a PhD from the University of Westminster. He is the Founding Principal of evidence-based interdisciplinary sustainable design firm Pomeroy Studio; and sustainable education provider, Pomeroy Academy. The author of many books including Pod Off-Grid: Explorations in Low Energy Waterborne Communities (2016), Jason is also a special professor at the University of Nottingham, James Cook University, and the Universita IUAV di Venezia. He promotes the role architecture plays in society through his television series – City Redesign (Singapore), City Time Traveller and Smart Cities 2.0

Share this

Disclaimer

Guest articles on the blog do not necessarily represent the views of, or endorsement by, the Institute or the wider University of Cambridge.