After a childhood in Scotland, John studied at the Bartlett School in London, graduating with a First Class BSc(Hons). He went on to complete a DipArch at UCL, concluding with a Masters in Advanced Architectural Studies, working with what is now the Space Syntax Laboratory. This experience led to a concern for the link between building technology, texture and materiality, and spatial configuration - in short, the physical expression of architectural form.
Having spent nine years with Grimshaw, he subsequently established his own practice in Manchester, Arca. The company is a vehicle for testing theoretical idea through a diverse range of project types - skateparks, bridges, church conversions, sports clubs, housing and public realm design.
In 2008, John founded Y Developments with two other partners, a property development company based in Cheadle working in the residential sector.
John has taught with the Continuity in Architecture unit since 2004, developing his interest in design techniques which regard cities and buildings as artefacts of socio-spatial activity. Working to investigate all aspects of context in a rigorous, inquisitive manner, the intention is to learn from traditional architectural means for achieving urban continuity.
Research interests are explored through the Continuity Small Settlements Group, working with towns, villages and small settlements to characterise and synthesise distinctive places to live and work. This is achieved through Design Guides and research activities delivered in part through the postgraduate design studio. Other personal interests include the role of ornament in architectural design, as it relates to the craft and technology of building.