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Ed Barsley
TEDS Founder 


Ed is an expert in environmental design and passionate about creating more resilient and enriching communities. He grew up in the county of Kent in England. At 18, he moved to India to teach in the Himalayas. On returning to the UK in 2005, he began a degree in Architecture at the University of Sheffield. In the break between his 2nd and 3rd years he worked in Shanghai for an architecture practice and did field research for his thesis on traditional Chinese watertowns, with a particular focus on their function / connection with natural systems. In 2008, on completing his degree, Ed moved to Copenhagen to work for Arkitema Architects on the design of future schools and low energy housing. 


After working in Denmark, Ed came back to the UK and undertook training in Permaculture design. He then moved to Cornwall and spent a year helping to build a timber frame ’Segal Method’ inspired house in the woods called ‘Koeschi’ and learnt a range of 1:1 sustainable construction techniques. During his time in Cornwall, Ed worked for the modular straw bale construction company Eco-fab and its environmental architecture sister practice Arco2. Their design for sustainable housing was shortlisted for use in the St Austell Eco-town project. 


In 2010, Ed left Cornwall to undertake a two year research based masters in Environmental Design in Architecture at the University of Cambridge. His early research at Cambridge focused on reducing the impact of heat waves on cities and their inhabitants. To do this he studied the vernacular architecture of Gijon in northern Spain, as it had the same climate heat profile that parts of the UK will have by 2080. He studied the streets orientation, height / widths ratios, materiality and tested a range of configurations using dynamic thermal models. The primary climate risk on the site Ed had chosen to focus his research on was however from flooding. The area (Par docks in Cornwall) was susceptible to impacts from sea level rise, storm surges and tides as well from overland surface water flows. The research culminated in a design of a ‘town that would remain open to the sea whilst safe from it’… and one that could gracefully and gradually adapt to changing conditions over time. His project was shortlisted in the Landscape Institutes international ‘Flood Ideas’ competition and won the Flood & Coast innovation competition. During the course, Ed had a placement with JTP and he worked on the design and environmental testing of low energy blue/green communities and cities as well as helping to develop a bio-climatic handbook for the practice. 


After Cambridge, Ed went to work at Baca Architects in London. During this time he was involved with the Climate Adaptive Neighbourhoods Study (which won the RIBA Presidents Medal for Research in Practice) and helped in the creation of the ‘Future Cities’ chapter of the RIBA book ‘Aquatecture’. 


In May 2013, he setup ‘The Environmental Design Studio’ (TEDS) and later that year became a trustee and Creative Director at the charity Small Acts of Kindness (SAOK). 


Alongside running TEDS and his work at SAOK, Ed moved back up to Cambridge to begin an EPSRC funded PhD in Architecture, with a focus on flood resilience. His ‘Retrofitting Resilience’ study looks at how to assess the flood resilience of an existing community and the ways in which it could be adapted to reduce the impacts and speed up recovery times. 


In 2016 TEDS (in collaboration with JTP) put in an entry for the Sunday Times ‘Resilient Home’ competition and their design, the ‘Home for All Seasons’ was the winning scheme, after being selected by judges and voted for by the public over a 3 month period. The design was for a property that could be resilient to flooding, overheating, extreme cold, energy shortages and societal change. 


In 2017 Ed ran the ESRC funded ‘Flood Narratives’ study with Public Health England and the Environment Agency which focused on developing new tools to communicate flood risk. 


Over the years  Ed has given lectures and taught resilient design at the University of Tokyo, Nottingham, Brighton, Royal College of Art, Central Saint Martins and Cambridge. He’s given keynote lectures at national flood conferences in both Japan and the UK. Since 2018 he’s been delivering the RIBA’s training on flood resilient design and TEDS has been working with CIWEM and others to develop the UK’s national training on this topic. 


In 2019, Ed went to Nepal with SAOK to support the charity Laxmi Pratisthan’s work with rural communities.


On 16th January 2020, Ed’s RIBA Book ‘Retrofitting for Flood Resilience: A Guide to Building & Community Design’ had its launch event in London at Arboretuem. 


In late 2020, Ed launched TEDS Hazard + Hope initiative, with the aim to not only communicate good practice principles around environmental design but also to showcase many of the inspiring ‘proof of concept’ examples of ways in which people have made their homes or businesses more flood resilient. 


Ed and TEDS are currently developing the ‘Hydroscape’, which will be a living lab / test bed to showcase and research strategies for resilience in both the natural and built  environment.

[ For interview enquiries or to get in touch with Ed or our team at TEDS, please do so via our contact page ]

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