ProBE latest developments

25 June 2014

The Centre for the Study of the Production of the Built Environment (ProBE) has been producing several publications and seminars since last year.


ProBE members have been busy over the past year on various fronts, particularly in the development of research on: 

  • vocational education and training (VET) for low energy construction (LEC)
  • women in construction
  • historical studies of the built environment, including through oral history

As a result, a number of research proposals are well advanced for submission later this year. One notable success has been the partnership with York University in Toronto, Canada, for the Adapting Canadian Workplaces programme, which includes a large Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council project in which ProBE will focus on VET4LEC (vocational education and training for low energy construction).

Another is the growing collaboration with the Thames Tideway Tunnel project on raising the bar for the representation of women in the construction workforce. Finally, ProBE has been working in a project in collaboration with the National Theatre to find some of the men who worked on its construction, in particular the Sikh carpenters, and record their oral histories.

Currently, two large European proposals are under development, one on VET4LEC and another on women in construction, as well as a Leverhulme project on those involved in building social housing in the 1970s and an Arts and Humanities Research Council proposal on concrete architecture and labour in the 1960s. Another very large proposal, Scaling for Retrofit to the Technology Strategy Board, led by Building Research Establishment, was withdrawn.


To complement these research developments, ProBE has organised a number of seminars with leading experts, each well-attended, with lively and open discussions, including:

  • What challenges for vocational education and training for low energy construction, 3 July 2013
  • Changes in the Built Environment Professions over 40 years, 10 October 2013
  • Brainstorming a Strategy, in collaboration with European Institute for Construction Labour Research, 27–28 February
  • What is ProBE about? – intended to open up ProBE to all those interested in FABE and WBS, 8 May, 2014


ProBE members have continued to publish widely, with some notable successes, including the 4* publication: Clarke L, Winch C and Brockmann M (2013) ‘Trade-based skills versus Occupational Capacity: the example of bricklaying in Europe’, Work, Employment and Society, December, 27(6), pp932-51.

Other publications have included:

  • Clarke L and Wall C (2014) ‘Are women ‘not up to’ working in construction – at all times and everywhere?’ in building the future: women in construction, Smith Institute, March, pp10-19
  • Clarke L, Winch C and Brockmann M (2014) ‘Der Widerspruch zwischen nationalen Berufsbildungssystemen und dem europäischen Arbeitsmarkt: der Fall der Maurerqualifikationen’, WSI Mitteilungen, 1
  • Brockmann M, Clarke L and Winch C (2013) ‘Implementing the EQF: English as distinct from continental bricklaying qualifications’ in (eds) Deitmer L et al, The Architecture of Innovative Apprenticeships, Dordrecht: Springer, pp257-268
  • McGuire C, Clarke L and Wall C (2013) Battles on the Barbican: the struggle for trade unionism in the British building industry, 1965-7. History Workshop Journal, 75 (1). pp33-57
  • Clarke L, Winch C and Brockmann M (2013) Aptidoes e Qualificacoes Transnacionais: Um Estudo de Quatro Profisses em Quatro Paises no Contexto do Quadro Europeu de Qualficacoes (QEQ) in Ensino Profissional.  Lisbon, Fundacao Francisco Manuel dos Santos
  • Gleeson C P, Lowe, R (2013) Meta-analysis of European heat pump field trial efficiencies. Energy and Buildings, 66, pp643-647
  • Muñoz-Rojas O, Wall C, and Clarke L (2013) ‘Rethinking Brutalist Buildings: their soul is in their making’, in Monstrous Spaces: the Other Frontier, Gheran N L, Monteith K (eds), Oxford: Interdisciplinary Press, pp93-104
  • Wall C (2013) An architecture of parts: architects, building workers and industrialisation in Britain 1940-1970. Routledge, Abingdon
  • D’Arcy H (2013, reprinted 2014) A bible of discontent: the memoir of Hugh D’Arcy, bricklayer and trade unionist, edited by ProBE, CLR/ProBe publication


In addition, ProBE members have attended and presented papers at a number of conferences including: 

  • Kapital Architecture, London Festival of Architecture, Royal College of Art, 12 June 2014
  • Unofficial Histories, University of Huddersfield, 7–8 June 2014
  • European Social Science History Conference, Vienna, 23–26 April 2014
  • International Labour Process Conference, Kings College London, 7–9 April 2014
  • Work Employment and Society, University of Warwick, 3–5 September 2013
  • Work in a Warming World Conference: Labour, Climate Change and Social Struggle, University of Toronto, 29 Nov–1 Dec 2014
  • ‘Sustainable construction – or how to develop a social, long-term, environmental friendly industry’. ETUI Brussels, 5 November 2013
  • International Working Party on Labour Market Segmentation, Dublin, 12–14 September 2013
  • Mobilising London's Housing Histories: The Provision of Homes since 1850, Institute of Historical Research, 27–28 June, 2013
  • British Universities Industrial Relations Conference, University Strathclyde, Glasgow 27–29 June 2013

Anyone interested in working with us in ProBE is more than welcome. Please email Linda Clarke at [email protected] if you're interested in joining us.

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