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Sustainability Leadership for the Built Environment (IDBE)

Part-time Master's and Postgraduate Certificate courses from the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership

The IDBE course team were shocked and saddened to learn of the recent death of IDBE graduate Martin Watson. Martin joined the course in 2011 as a member of Cohort 18. He was already well established in his career as a director of the Liverpool-based architectural practice Brock Carmichael. He brought to the course not only his professional experience and expertise but deep-felt enthusiasm for the ability of architecture to contribute to a sense of community and social well-being. He also represented Liverpudlian wit and humour at its best, and it was a delight to have him as a participant in the course.

His colleague on the course Mike Parrett (Cohort 17, 2010-2012) has contributed a splendid obituary below:


Martin Watson MSt (Cantab) BA (Hons) Dip ArchRIBA

1962 – 2017

Martin Watson 1962-2017

After secondary school, Martin completed an Ordinary National Diploma in Construction before studying Architecture at Manchester Metropolitan University. He achieved a BA (Hons) and Diploma in Architecture, a 1st Class honours in Architecture and was highly commended for Urban Design.

He became a Chartered Architect in 1991, furthering his belief that construction is a collaborative process. He followed this by reading Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment, where he graduated with a Master’s degree from the University of Cambridge. He participated in the 2012 IDBE CEM Cambridge Union debate, successfully arguing against the motion ‘This house believes regulation stifles innovation’. While at Cambridge, he wrote an essay; ‘Arkwright Town and the Eldonians: A comparative study of socio economic and psychological aspects of displaced communities in the UK’

In his early career Martin was involved in the development of a new village master plan and community primary school of Arkwright Town. This early learning was important to him and provided the inspiration to write his acclaimed essay, which received an honorary citation at the 2013 Chinese Urban Housing conference, the first time this honour had ever been received by a western architect. The presentation was equally well received at the 2014 International Union of Architects World Congress in South Africa.

In 2014, Martin was appointed as Associate Adjunct Professor at the Centre for Housing Innovation at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and led a module on Housing Design and Development. He recently led the multidisciplinary team at Brock Carmichael Architects that won the 2016 RIBA International Design Competition to establish a self-sufficient and sustainable future for the people of Tristan da Cunha, the most remote inhabited island in the world.

Martin had a distinguished architectural career for more than 25 years, mostly with Brock Carmichael where he was a full equity partner and director of operations with lead responsibilities for innovation in offsite manufacturing and education. His notable projects included:

  • One Park West: Pelli Clarke Pelli’s £70m mixed-use development for Grosvenor Estates, part of the £1bn Liverpool One Project.
  • Shrewsbury School: a five-year, £10m programme to refurbish and reconfigure 11 Grade II boarding houses and the design of Emma Darwin House a new build boarding house for girls.
  • Ruthin School: a six-year, £12m master plan for new boarding houses, a 500-seat dining hall, sixth form centre, performing arts facility and library.
  • Shilin Stone Forest Resort master plan, China for Sunning Tourist Investment Corporation
  • Ocean One Marina, Tianjin, China for Rainbow Land Development.

He helped develop Brock Carmichael’s business in China and was a director of the Octagon Partnership, a unique sustainable architecture collaboration between the firm and the Oval Partnership architectural practice. He was a committee member of the Liverpool Architectural Society and a Freeman of the City of London through his membership of the Worshipful Company of Constructors.

He remained an active and committed supporter of Habitat for Humanity on Poverty alleviation projects in the UK and China.

Martin is survived by his wife Margaret, children Alex and Esther, his parents Brian and Edith, identical twin brother Tony and younger brother Chris.

Vale in aeternum, sed numquam oblivione delebitur