Mr Christopher Whitman B.Arch (Hons), Dip.Arch


+44 (0)29 2087 5893
2.03, North Road
Research group:
Architectural History and Theory Group
Office hours:
Tuesday, Wednesday AM and Friday


Deputy Course Leader, MSc Sustainable Building Conservation
Module Leader, Energy Use in Historic Buildings

Other information

PhD- Low Carbon Retrofit of Historic Timber-Framed Buildings in the UK

Heritage buildings have often been considered off-limits when considering energy refurbishment projects, however rising energy prices and stricter legislation means that they can no longer be ignored. In the case of historic and heritage properties refurbishment is a complex issue, involving aesthetic considerations in addition to technical issues. The hygrothermal behaviour of wall build-ups in buildings of traditional materials must also be fully understood in order to avoid problems of interstitial moisture, long term decay and overheating. Natural insulation materials such as sheep’s wool, hemp, flax and cellulose are generally vapour permeable and as such preferable to non-permeable synthetic insulation materials which trap moisture leading to deterioration of the building fabric. Their hygroscopic qualities can however affect the moisture content of adjacent materials.

Research to date has mainly focused on solid-walled brick or stone dwellings, however within the UK there exist other less robust historical construction techniques such as wattle and daub, cob and timber, which being vapour permeable could be more sensitive to inappropriate insulation solutions. Chris’s PhD research will study the refurbishment of buildings of traditional construction, where vapour permeable walls require breathable solutions that can be offered by natural insulation materials. The research will compare the performance of possible solutions with the aid of post occupancy evaluation and environmental monitoring of buildings before and after refurbishment. In addition digital simulation of the energy efficiency of potential refurbishment solutions will be undertaken, in addition to the study of interstitial hygrothermic behaviour using software such as WUFI. Physical test panels and test cells with interstitial hygrothermal sensors may also be used to corroborate the digital results.

Keywords: Low carbon retrofit, timber-frame, conservation.

Research interests

Energy use in historic buildings
Vernacular Architecture
Bioclimatic Architecture
Non-conventional materials
Environmental comfort

Teaching profile

Chris is currently Deputy Course Leader of the MSc Sustainable Building Conservation. In addition he is Module Leader of the module “Energy Use in Historic Buildings”.

His experience includes teaching on undergraduate and postgraduate taught courses in both Chile and UK. Previous courses have included undergraduate and postgraduate design studio, sustainable and bioclimatic design, and renewable energy for industrial designers.

Chris is a qualified architect with over 17 years’ experience in both practice and academia. Since 2007 his research has focused on the comfort and energy use in indigenous, vernacular, traditional and contemporary dwellings, utilizing in situ monitoring, digital simulation and the construction and monitoring of physical test cells. During this time he has co-ordinated 2 laboratories of building environment monitoring, participated in 2 research projects funded by the Chilean government and 4 research projects funded by Chilean Universities. In 2015 he was the winner of the Association for Preservation Technology (APT) Martin Weaver Scholarship. At the same time his experience in architectural practice has included work on a wide range of award winning projects, including 7 years as a director of Edward Cullinan Architects. As such his experience provides a balance of architectural science, building design and construction, and architectural history and theory.

Chris is currently in his 3rd year of his PhD which he is undertaking as a Staff Candidate. His postgraduate research focuses on the energy efficiency of historic timber-framed buildings in the UK. Concurrently he is the Deputy Course Leader of the MSc in Sustainable Building Conservation, and Module Leader for “Energy use in historic Building”.