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International built environment expert and Professor of Energy Physics Mattheos Santamouris has been appointed UNSW’s inaugural Anita Lawrence Chair in High Performance Architecture.

The emerging research area looks at minimising the environmental footprint of buildings through enhanced architectural design and performance evaluation, including how ventilation, lighting, acoustics, energy and water can be incorporated into buildings to improve their efficiency.

Announcing the Chair, the first of its kind in Australia, Dean of Built Environment Professor Alec Tzannes AM, said he was honoured to be naming a world-class leader in high performance architecture as the inaugural appointment.

“Professor Santamouris’ contribution to the advancement of the design sciences is of global significance and truly exceptional,”said Professor Tzannes.

“His research interests in sustainability, technology and the invention of low energy materials complement existing strengths in the faculty and within UNSW more generally. Professor Santamouris’ expertise will provide our graduating students with a distinctive and highly relevant skill-set, enabling them to deliver more sustainable and liveable architecture in the future.”

“Around 40% of the total energy consumption in developed nations is attributable to buildings. Manufacturing of building components and products requires almost three billion tonnes of raw materials per year, which is equivalent of 40 to 50% of the global annual material use.”

Currently based at the University of Athens, Professor Santamouris is the Director of the Laboratory of Building Energy Research. He was formerly the President of The National Centre for Renewable and Energy Savings, Greece’s national body for the promotion of renewable energy sources and energy conservation.

He is also editor in chief of Energy and Buildings, associate editor of the Solar Energy Journal and former editor in chief of the Journal of Advances in Building Energy Research. He has been a visiting professor at the Metropolitan University of London, Tokyo Polytechnic University, National University of Singapore, Bolzano University, Brunel University London and the Cyprus Institute.

The Chair has been established with a generous bequest from UNSW alumna and former Built Environment lecturer, Associate Professor Anita Lawrence.


UNSW Chancellor David Gonski with UNSW's first female architecture graduate Associate Professor Anita Lawrence, whose generous bequest of half her estate will fund the Anita Lawrence Chair in High Performance Architecture.

Associate Professor Lawrence graduated as the University’s first female architect in 1955, before beginning a 32-year teaching career at UNSW, where she specialised in acoustics and design. She was also one of the founding members of the Australian Acoustical Society.

Associate Professor Lawrence said all built environment professionals should understand and value the practice of acoustics.

“A person’s experience of a building can be drastically altered by bad acoustics – it’s imperative that architects, builders and landscape architects understand the importance of achieving optimal sound in a room or building,” she said.

Professor Tzannes praised Associate Professor Lawrence’s generosity in funding the Chair.

“Anita is one of our first cohort of graduates. Her considerable academic and international acoustic research accomplishments led to a long and distinguished career at UNSW.

“The establishment of the Chair means her academic contribution, philanthropic support and overall service to the University will continue to be honoured in the future.”

Professor Santamouris said his main aim as Chair is to mitigate the environmental impact of the built environment by decreasing the resources used by buildings.

“Around 40% of the total energy consumption in developed nations is attributable to buildings,” he said. “Manufacturing of building components and products requires almost three billion tonnes of raw materials per year, which is equivalent of 40 to 50% of the global annual material use.”

A “rich global dialogue” had opened up about how best to address these problems, Professor Santamouris said, and he believes Australia is highly developed in terms of its energy performance in the built environment.

Professor Tzannes said UNSW is well placed to become an international leader in High Performance Architecture.

“UNSW has always been a science and technology focused university. The Faculty of Built Environment now has the ability to capitalise on these strengths while drawing on the established expertise in our national innovation hub, the CRC for Low Carbon Living, and our City Futures Research Centre, Healthy Built Environment program and Liveability Laboratory.

Read the article in The Australian.