The INTERREG FCRBE DIGITAL SCHOOL OF RE-CONSTRUCTION 2021: An online two week long digital summer school hosted by the University of Brighton

Duncan Baker-Brown (Creator), Nicholas Gant, Ryan Woodard, Anthony Roberts, Lucy-Ann Gilbert, Michael Howe, James McAdam, Andre Viljoen

Research output: Other contributionpeer-review


In 2018, Baker-Brown was invited by Rotor (a Brussels-based research group, design studio and consultancy) to join their bid for €4.3million funding from North-West Europe INTERREG for their project which aimed to facilitate the increase in reclaimed building elements from 1% today, to 50% by 2032.

Baker-Brown’s primary role was to design and curate the pedagogic output for this ongoing, five year long project. On behalf of the University of Brighton (UoB), he is Principal Investigator (PI) for the project, where he leads the team of 8 UoB academics who have been involved in the summer school project as well as contributing towards the book idea discussed below. Initially, the main pedagogic output of this project was to be a face-to-face international summer school to be based in Brighton & Hove in 2020. Baker-Brown and his team were asked to design a two-week long event for about 80 students, studying engineering, design & architecture, from the six countries in the NWE INTERREG region. This involved inviting undergraduate & post-graduate students from every university offering engineering, design & architecture courses across the region. Students were asked to submit a cv with a 500-word ‘motivational statement’ in response to the five research ‘themes’ listed on the FCRBE ‘School of Re-Construction’ website which was part of the NWE INTERREG FCRBE.

Summer school themes needed to compliment/ respond to, the main question the FCRBE project asked - namely that of considering re-use in the construction sector to avoid the current excessive and environmentally destructive use of raw materials and creation of massive flows of waste to landfill and incineration. As such, all ideas around the themes to be pursued, the design and curation of the event content and parallel programmes (such as the public lectures and lunchtime debates), as well as the selection of summer school team leaders and students, were all peer-reviewed at regular (normally every three months) by all FCRBE partners.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic we were not able to deliver the live face-to-face summer school, named ‘The School of Re-Construction’ in 2020, although over 80 students had been invited to attend the summer school. All participants were offered the opportunity to take part in the event in 2021.

In early 2021 it became apparent that, due to COVID-19, it would still not be possible to host a face-to-face summer school as originally planned. And so, the FCRBE project team agreed that Baker-Brown and his colleagues at the University of Brighton could host a digital version of the summer school instead. Although the inability to host a face-to-face event was extremely disappointing, it soon became apparent that a digital event offered a number of attractive opportunities that would not be feasible if the event was site-based and face-to-face. So, we were able to invite students, not just from the NWE INTERREG region, but from across the globe. As a consequence, we had students from countries as far apart as Columbia, Canada, Ireland, UK, Europe, Jordan, UAE, India and China. We were also able to invite expressions of interest from academics and practitioners keen to take part as team leaders for what now became our International School of Reconstruction. Similar to the student participants, prospective team leaders were asked to submit cv’s and motivational statements that included a 500-word ‘statement of intent’ describing their response to one or more of our five themes, together with an idea of a brief they would set students during the two-week digital summer school. As with the student participants, we received team leader applicants from across the globe. All participants, whether team leaders or students, were peer reviewed and approved by all INTERREG FCRBE partners. Further details of the team leaders we eventually chose can be seen here. They include (among others) Prof. Folke Koebbeling, who is an artist and Head of the Institute for Architecture-related Art at the University of Braunschweig, Prof. Graeme Brooker, Head of interior Design at the Royal College of Art, Filipa Oliveira, Architect & coordinator from ACAN, Nicole Maurer from Maurer United Architects, Michaël Ghyoot & Sophie Boone of Rotor, and Jonny Pugh of Flores & Prats Architects.

The digital School of Re-Construction ran from 02nd-13th August 2021. 24 academics and practitioners ran 11 separate teams of students. In addition, we had 8 public lectures and debates given by internationally-renowned experts in the field of re-use and designing-out-waste. These events were attended by the 110 participants of the summer school (including 78 students from 35 academic institutions from across the world), as well as a further 250 external visitors. All recordings of the live events, together with details of the team leaders and the themes they pursued, can be seen on the International School of Re-Construction.

In October 2021, Baker-Brown, and his colleagues from the University of Brighton, had the opportunity to make another bid for NWE INTERREG funding to support the writing and publishing of a paper or a book. With the help of Prof. Graeme Brooker, together with the approval of all FCRBE partners, we secured further INTERREG funding in January 2022 to facilitate to writing of a book proposal relating to the themes, ideas and outputs from the School of Re-Construction, as well as the book itself.

Original languageEnglish
TypeDigital International Summer School
Media of outputDigital/ Web-based
Place of Publication
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2021


  • Re-use
  • Circular cities
  • circular design
  • Circular economy
  • Pedagogic research
  • global citizenship
  • Architectural design
  • sustainable design principles
  • climate activism
  • Climate change
  • Social Justice
  • climate justice
  • inclusive design


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