Climate change is the biggest challenge facing the building industry and the biggest challenge facing the next generation of architects. It’s clear that if we want to halt global heating we have to STOP building as usual.


What is ‘No Building As Usual’?

Studio Bark is passionate about teaching sustainable construction and has been running educational live build projects with students since 2012. Our live builds have grown steadily in scale and environmental ambition, with Box House, a more recent project, being filmed and broadcast as part of Channel 4’s Grand Designs: The Street. In 2021 we took our ambitions one step further again, launching ‘No Building As Usual’ as a highly collaborative cross-sector approach to student builds. The programme responds to gaps within the building industry, specifically regarding a lack of diversity and climate literacy.


Like many other live build programmes out there, No Building As Usual (NBAU) is ambitious, immersive, and focused on plugging knowledge gaps that desk-based learning struggles to fill. Part of what makes NBAU unique is that it’s aimed at students from diverse and often under-represented backgrounds. Sitting alongside the construction programme are mentoring sessions and workshops which provide a holistic and supportive experience.  Another unique aspect of the programme is that it brings together students and practitioners from across the building sector – architecture, structural engineering, construction, building services engineering, and quantity surveying.


No Building As Usual allows students to practice:

• collaborative working with participants and organisers from a range of backgrounds
• sustainable construction and linked-up thinking
• working with sub-contractors and design-team consultants
• working with modern methods of construction (MMCs) and innovative materials
• running a site and programme
• working to a real budget and deadline, for a real client


By working in an open book manner, and by sharing the back-of-house organisation, NBAU is a blueprint programme that anyone working in the building industry can adopt and run.


Further explanation of the thought-process behind NBAU is in this presentation given at Architect’s Declare in 2021.

NBAU – Past

Summer 2021 saw the first ever No Building As Usual, with the construction of Nest House – a fully accessible home constructed over ten (ish) weeks using Studio Bark’s modular and dismantlable U-Build system.


The build brought together 12 students from various courses from across the UK. The students camped on-site for the duration of the build – living and working together in a uniquely immersive way. To support the students throughout this journey, the programme included one:one mentoring sessions from industry leaders, and group workshops on topics ranging from sustainability to equality, diversity & inclusion.


NBAU was run by Studio Bark as an experimental not-for-profit venture, supported by the RIBA and ACAN, TRADA, Structure Workshop and Atamate and many others. The programme was also supported financially through student sponsorship from Make Architects, Thermafleece, Kinrise, Darling Associates, Child Graddon Lewis, Grimshaw Architects, the Timber Trade Federation and Forbo.


The build process was documented by the students through a series of weekly blog posts, on our news page.


“Over the course of the past nine weeks, I’ve learnt so much beyond my expectations. This experience has given me an insight to how the built industry functions on site, the unexpected obstacles that show up along the way and how we navigate through those problems. But beyond the architectural knowledge I have gained throughout the weeks, I have had the privilege to talk to professionals from various professions within the built industry; from engineering, electrical, and even the ethical sides of the profession, it was very insightful to hear and see all the facets of architecture you wouldn’t normally be exposed to. The mentoring sessions and workshops throughout the weeks have also allowed me to re-evaluate my goals and aspirations and what I should look for on my architectural journey, but also life in general.” – NBAU 2021 Student 


Download our portfolio of past student live builds.

NBAU – Future

This is just the beginning for No Building As Usual. We hope to run the programme again soon, incorporating the many lessons learnt from Nest House – NBAU2021 – to make the next one even greater.


Businesses – We want to support other organisations looking to run NBAU – if this could be you we would love to hear from you, please email us at


Supporters and Sponsors – If you or your organisation are interested in hearing more about sponsoring a student, or would like to be involved in another way, we would also love to hear from you, please email us at


Students – We aren’t currently looking for participants, but if you are interested in getting involved then please complete this expression of interest form and we will be in touch when the next opportunity arises. We are interested in students from across the built environment professions (not just architecture!)

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