Alison Brooks is one of the UK’s most highly awarded and internationally acclaimed architects. Raised in Welland and Guelph in Ontario, she studied architecture at the University of Waterloo before moving to the UK in 1988. Since founding her practice in 1996 she has emerged as one of the UK’s most inventive architects with works encompassing urban design and housing, higher education buildings, private houses and public buildings for the arts. In addition to receiving over 70 awards for design achievement she is the only UK architect to have received all of the RIBA’s most prestigious architectural awards: the Stirling Prize, the Manser Medal (twice), RIBA House of the Year 2020 and the Stephen Lawrence Prize.
Alison Brooks’ architectural approach springs from invested research into specific geographies, climate and cultures of each project so that her design solutions to emerge as both unique and relevant to the constituencies they serve. This is beautifully exemplified by her recently completed Cohen Quadrangle at Exeter College, Oxford. The first Oxford College to be designed by a female architect, this building demonstrates the conceptual rigour, sculptural qualities and ingenious detailing that is her practice trademark.
Alison has dedicated much of her professional career to housing design and has completed over 1000 dwellings across the UK, including the Stirling Prize-winning Accordia, Cambridge; Stirling Prize-shortlisted Newhall Be; and Mies EU Award finalist Ely Court in London. Recent high-profile commissions include mixed-use, high density urban developments in London, Vancouver and Toronto.
In the arts and education sector she is currently designing an Entrance Building and Literature Centre for Homerton College Cambridge and an art museum and study centre for one Cambridge’s oldest Colleges. Her cultural projects include the Folkestone Performing Arts Centre and the Smile, the world-famous timber pavilion for the 2016 London Design Festival. In 2022 her practice attained 2nd place in the international competition for the London School of Economics Firoz Llalji Global Hub.
Alison has become a public voice for the profession advocating the role of women in architecture, the resurgence of building craft and the value of timber as an expressive, low carbon building technology. In 2012 she was awarded BD Architect of the Year. She was subsequently awarded 2013 AJ Woman Architect of the Year in recognition of her work in housing, regeneration and education. In 2017 Alison was appointed Royal Designer for Industry by the Royal Society of Arts; London Mayor’s Design Advocate and AJ 100 Contribution to the Profession Award. In 2020 her practice was awarded Dezeen Architect of the Year and BD Housing Architect of the Year.
Alison Brooks has contributed to architectural education for over fifteen years as External Examiner for University of Central London, University of Bath, University of Lincoln and the Architectural Association. She taught a Diploma School Unit at the Architectural Association Diploma School from 2008-2010 and served as External Examiner from 2016-2019. In 2018 Alison was appointed as the John T. Dunlop Design Critic in Architecture at Harvard GSD. Since 2018 she has been Visiting Professor for the Masters in Collective Housing at ETSAM, Universidad Politécnica of Madrid. Alison is currently the Gensler Visiting Critic at Cornell’s AAP School and was awarded the Bethune Award by the University at Buffalo. Alison lectures internationally on architecture and urban design and serves on numerous international design competition juries.
In 2014 Alison was awarded an Alumni Achievement Award by the University of Waterloo, followed by a 2016 Doctorate of Engineering (Hon Causa).