SURFACE - Inclusive Design Research Centre

In memory of our good friend and colleague

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Professor Elizabeth Burton, our I’DGO friend and colleague from Warwick University has died following a 2 year courageous battle with cancer.

Elizabeth, known as ‘Libby’, was Professor of Sustainable Building Design and Wellbeing, and she held a joint appointment with Warwick Medical School and the School of Engineering. Libby joined Warwick five years ago where she started her career as an architect and urban designer, but became more interested in how the built environment influenced people’s wellbeing, quality of life and mental health.

University of Warwick Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nigel Thrift said:

"Libby faced her illness with tremendous courage and she will be greatly missed by all who knew her. Her passion for her work inspired her colleagues and she made a huge contribution to the field of wellbeing and the built environment. Our thoughts are with her family at this sad time.”

Her research career focused in particular on the field of ageing, including dementia-friendly design, and she also devised tools and methods to measure the effect of the built environment. As part of this event, she recorded a seminar, which you can watch below, that explored her professional and personal journey. She talks about her own pursuit of happiness and her twin passions for the built environment and a desire to make a difference to people’s lives. 

Despite her illness, Libby carried on working and, earlier this year, she organised the Space for Thought International Symposium on Design for Wellbeing in the Built Environment. 

Libby leaves a legacy of being the first person in the UK to bring the importance of design, independence and dementia to the EPSRC research agenda, and in following this with our work in I’DGO which focussed on the street environment, independence and older people.

As a SURFACE team we have been privileged to work alongside Libby and to share an academic journey together. At this difficult time, our thoughts and best wishes go to Bart and the kids, and of Lynne too, and we send them our love.