School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

Staff Profile

Professor Rachel Armstrong

Professor of Experimental Architecture


Rachel Armstrong is Professor of Experimental Architecture at the Department of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, Newcastle University. She is also a 2010 Senior TED Fellow who is establishing an alternative approach to sustainability that couples with the computational properties of the natural world to develop a 21st century production platform for the built environment, which she calls 'living' architecture.

    Rachel has been frequently recognized as being a pioneer. She has recently been featured in interview for PORTER magazine, added to the 2014 Citizens of the Next Century List, by Future-ish, listed on the Wired 2014 Smart List. She is one of the 2013 ICON 50 and described as one of the ten people in the UK that may shape the UK’s recovery by Director Magazine in 2012. In the same year she was nominated as one of the most inspiring top nine women by Chick Chip magazine and featured by BBC Focus Magazine’s in 2011 in ‘ideas that could change the world’.



I am coordinator for a Horizon 2020 Future Emerging Technologies Open award for the LIAR project (LIving Architecture) that runs from 1 April 2016 - 31 March 2019.

The project aims to design programmable ecosystems for buildings. Imagine that you have a unit in your home that is rather like a water boiler, except it doesn’t use fossil fuels but the metabolisms (the chemical burning) of living things to generate its outputs. What kinds of things could we ask such a system do? This is what we're asking our ‘living’ architecture - an installation that contains tiny ecosystems of hard working organisms that are performing particular useful tasks. For example, we are giving them the specific challenge of cleaning up grey water and seeing if they can reclaim phosphate, or salvage valuable products from our waste. Perhaps we can even encourage them to make new substances like next generation detergents, which are less harmful to the environment than existing ones.