How do we pass on our skills and ambitions to the next generation?

How do we pass on our skills and ambitions to the next generation?

What is ‘No Building As Usual’?

The Programme

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, from garden studios to entire homes such as Box House, which was broadcast on Channel 4’s Grand Designs: The Street, and our most recent live build project Nest House.

In 2021 we took our ambitions one step further, 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.

“Site work has allowed me to see a side of architecture, which isn’t often covered in university. Being able to channel theoretical knowledge into practical work on site has helped me to better understand how ideas come to life as well as highlighting the challenges that can occur during a build” - Salome, NBAU student 2021

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

NBAU is a blueprint programme that anyone working in the building industry can adopt and run, as we work in an open book manner and share our methods.

Studio Bark team with clients and architecture students
Studio Bark build Nest House for Francine and Stephen with the 2021 cohort of NBAU students
Students build Nest House as part of No Building As Usual live build programme
The students learning practical skills on site at Nest House


Students on-site learning, mentored by professionals in the construction industry
The programme involved various workshops and mentoring sessions with professionals from across the construction industry
U-build modular construction by Studio Bark
The students learn modular construction methods using Studio Bark's U-Build system on site at Box House

Previous NBAU Projects

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

The build brought together 12 students from across the UK, from various courses and backgrounds, who lived and worked together on site for the whole 10 week build. The students camped on site, allowing them to fully immerse in the experience and learn from the process and from each other, and as always our Studio Bark team learned as much from them.

The programme was fully supportive, providing the students with one-to-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.

“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


The Future of NBAU

“Imagine if there are 10 of these projects, or 5 bigger ones... I think this could have a dramatic effect on the sector.” - Wilf Meynell, director of Studio Bark

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.

How Businesses can get involved

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

How Supporters and Sponsors can get involved

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

How Students can get involved

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!)

Nest House countryside eco home by Studio Bark
Nest House, a fully accessible eco home built by NBAU students
Students on site as part of our NBAU live build programme in the Wye Valley
Our 2021 cohort of NBAU students on site in the Wye Valley

The Film

No Building As Usual short film by Jim Stephenson
The No Building As Usual short film follows our 2021 cohort of students as they build Nest House in the Wye Valley

The 'No Building As Usual' Short Film

No Building As Usual has been documented in a short film by architectural photographer and filmmaker, Jim Stephenson and his team.

It was premiered at the RIBA, alongside the People’s Pavilions and Accelerate, whose young participants gave short presentations about the respective programmes.

Watch the film online.


NBAU Projects