Interview with Rod McAllister

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m an architect, filmmaker and founder and editor of DejaBase – a travel and culture website and app.  The blurry picture above is me on Mount Kenya in 1985.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

The achievement I’m most proud of is leading the international architectural team that won and completed the design of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital in Johannesburg.  Did I mention I met Nelson Mandela?  Thanks for asking!

What is your favourite thing about your career?

The things I have enjoyed most in my career are the travel, learning about new places and people.  As architects, people look to us to transform the mundane into something unexpected – I love it when that happens.

Describe HEDQF in a sentence?

HEDQF is a network of people, involved with the design of universities, whose aim is to learn and share ideas and knowledge to achieve the best results.

What is your contribution to HEDQF?

I first gave a lecture at the AUDE conference in Limerick on behalf on HEDQF back in 1996.  I joined formally in 2003 and have served as a trustee since 2015.  Since 2010, I’ve made a number of short films about universities and architecture for HEDQF.  I’ve also coordinated international study tours of Delft, Dublin, Vienna, Copenhagen and Barcelona.  In 2022, we go to Milan.

What does a good HE building mean to you – quote?

Of course, the best university buildings are efficient, sustainable and value-for-money but they are nothing if they’re not a joy to occupy and remain in the memory.

One thing about you that will surprise people?

I used to work on a fishing trawler in Cornwall.

Cats or dogs?


What makes you laugh the most? 

Sean Lock’s list of his greatest achievements.

If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be?

Visit Rome in about 126 AD.

And that’s all for now from Rod, look out for our next interview in December …..