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Dan Phillips


  • Dan Phillips is a designer and engineer with 30 years’ experience in the development of innovative environments, products and services. He studied at Imperial College and the University of Cambridge and tutors on the Service Design programme at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and has been a member of a number of institutional advisory groups on cities, sustainability and the built environment.  

  • Biography

  • Before coming to the RCA, Dan was Global Director for Sustainability at Buro Happold, ran his own design and innovation practice, the SEA, and worked at Eight Associates, Battle McCarthy, Arup and Ford on large scale projects in the UK, Europe, USA, Asia and Africa.

    At the SEA, major projects and clients included brand and service innovation for Orange and France Telecom, behaviour change services for young diabetics with NHS Scotland, a novel mixed mode education platform for schools and museums with the Department for Culture Media and Sports, strategic environmental consultancy for Southwark Council, Whitby Bird and the Building Research Establishment, a range of shoes for Camper, as well as design and innovation services for a number of start ups in the UK and USA.

    Academic and media researchers have cited Dan’s work on new forms of blended learning, behaviour change in health care and sustainable building design in a wide range of publications including The Economist, The World Health Organisation, the International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning, The Architectural Expression of Environmental Control, The Dynamics of Delight: Architecture and Aesthetics, and Architecture in a Climate of Change.

    Major built environment projects that Dan has been involved with include the Millennium Dome and Village in Greenwich with Richard Rogers and Ralph Erskine; Eastgate Centre in Zimbabwe with Mick Pearce; Nottingham University Jubilee Campus with Michael Hopkins; Brindley Place in Birmingham with Roger Madelin at Argent, and the Osaka Maritime Museum with Paul Andreu.  These, and other built environment work, have been awarded a number of national and international awards for sustainability and architectural excellence.

    Dan also proposed and was commissioned to write a book on environmental design for the built environment. The Eco Friendly Home, first published by HarperCollins Illustrated in 2000, has sold over 30,000 copies, with new UK editions appearing in 2008 and 2012. It has also been published in the United States as Designs for a Healthy Home: An Eco-Friendly Approach (Soma Books, 2003) and in France as Une Maison Saine Et Naturelle (Dessain et Tolra, 2001). 

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Research interests

Dan’s area of interest is the need to align community and organisational innovation with a commitment to equitable and sustainable development, both for short-term health and wellbeing and for long-term social and environmental balance. Underpinning this is scepticism about the ability of people to engage with the needs of distant communities or with global or long-term value, let alone with their personal or community needs and motivations.

Dan believes that technology and economic levers alone are poor masters and that systemic transformation is best achieved through empathic design, deep technical appreciation of the tools that we use to engage with each other and a clear understanding of the feedback between legislation, culture, technology and the environment on human behaviour.

Key projects that he has developed while at the RCA include new partnerships with Mind, the national health charity, initially looking at mental resilience in young people and with the Finance Innovation Lab, on Trust and the future of Audit in the 21st century. He is also working with Imperial Health Trust on quality improvement in health education, with Chelsea and Westminster NHS on medical team support during emergencies and North West London Health Trust on new approaches to learning spaces and services.