Alison Brooks

The Ideal and the Real: Why Civicness is the Project

Alison Brooks, Principal and Creative Director of Alison Brooks Architects, is recognised as one of the leading architects of her generation. She has developed an international reputation for design excellence, as well as a voice advocating for the social project of architecture, and the role of women in the profession. Born in Ontario, Canada in 1962, she moved to London in 1988 after graduating with a BES and BArch from the University of Waterloo.

Since establishing Alison Brooks Architects in 1996, her architecture has attracted worldwide acclaim for its conceptual rigour, sculptural quality and ingenious detailing.  Based on research into the specific social, cultural and physical contexts of each project, her approach has led to a portfolio of award-winning architecture, encompassing urban design, housing, education, commercial projects and public buildings for the arts.

Named by Debrett’s as one of ‘Britain’s 500 Most Influential’, Alison Brooks is the only UK architect to have won all three of the UK’s most prestigious awards for architecture: the RIBA Stirling Prize, Manser Medal and Stephen Lawrence Prize. In 2012, Alison Brooks and her team were awarded the BD Architect of the Year and Housing Architect of the Year accolades. In 2013, Brooks was named Woman Architect of the Year by the Architect’s Journal in recognition of her progressive work in housing, regeneration and education.

Brooks’ largest cultural commission to date, the Exeter College Cohen Quad at the University of Oxford, is due to open in summer 2017. Joining a select list of stellar architects, she was recently commissioned by Charles Jencks to design a new Maggie’s cancer care centre in Somerset. Brooks is currently designing towers in London King’s Cross and Greenwich Peninsula, the city’s largest riverside regeneration project. Other landmark buildings include: Folkestone Quarterhouse; a multidisciplinary arts centre that spearheaded the area’s creative renaissance, the Stirling Prize-winning Accordia Cambridge, and Ely Court; an acclaimed urban regeneration project shortlisted for the 2017 EU Mies van der Rohe Award, and the first of three of the practice’s projects modernising London’s South Kilburn Estate.

Alison Brooks is a CABE / Design Council National Design Review Panel Chair and Trustee of Open-City. She was a was member of the UK Government Advisory Panel; The Farrell Review of Architecture and the Built Environment, and a member of the RIBA Awards group from 2010-15, where she was juror for the 2011 Stirling Prize and 2010 Lubetkin Prize. Brooks is currently External Examiner at the Architectural Association and at the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture. She also taught at the Architectural Association as Diploma Unit Master from 2008-2010. Brooks lectures internationally on architecture and urbanism, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Engineering by the University of Waterloo, Canada in 2016.

Research projects include: Kaleidoscope City, winner of the 2010 Audi Urban Future Award, that was exhibited at the 2010 Venice Biennale and the 2010 New York Festival of Ideas for the New City. Dealing with themes relating to the civic role of housing, community, and state stewardship, the interactive installation, City(e)State, was exhibited at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Her work has twice been featured in the Phaidon Atlas of Contemporary Architecture.

Alison Brooks

Alison Brooks Architects