Beginning as a part-time student in Bristol, UK, where he was born, Chris travelled to West Berlin in 1960 looking for adventure over the summer vacation. He stayed on for two years to study architecture at the Hochschule fur Bildende Kunste, witnessing at first hand the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 and the following tense confrontation between Russian and American forces at Checkpoint Charlie (many years later, his Berlin experiences enabled him to write about the history and redevelopment of the Reichstag as the New German Parliament from a unique personal perspective).

Returning to the UK in 1962 he worked for architects James Cubitt and Maxwell Fry in London before taking up his studies again at the AA School of Architecture in 1965. At his interview, he presented his own design for a prefabricated system of courtyard housing, which was published the same year in the AA Quarterly - the author's first ever published work. Later, in his AA graduate thesis, 'Adaptive Urban Form: A Biological Model' (1968), Chris explored the implications of emergent new disciplines such as cybernetics and systems theory for urban design theory and architectural production. Following graduation, the same thesis provided the primary source for a series of essays published in Architectural Design, such as 'Evolutionary Planning' (1968) and 'Ditching the Dinosaur Sanctuary' (1969), anticipating current theoretical debates and technological developments by many years.

His teaching career began in the same period at Portsmouth Polytechnic School of Architecture (1971-78). In 1973-74 he spent a semester as Visiting Scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Nicholas Negroponte's Architecture Machine Group (the forerunner of MIT's Media Lab), where he devised ARCHITRAINER, an interactive program simulating dialogues between architects and clients. In the following years he taught at major universities in Canada (1978), the USA (1979-81), Malaysia (1981-82), Saudi Arabia (1982-85), Singapore (1985-86) and Turkey (1988-89), during which time he also became a semi-permanent resident in the Mediterranean island state of Malta - what he called 'base camp'. The outcome was a series of new teaching programmes and essays in The Architectural Review and other journals propagating a modern hybrid regionalism based upon both local and global sources. He also became a regular participant in the activities of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, both as an official nominator for the Award - he has nominated several winners - and speaker at AKAA seminars.


In 1989 he returned to teach in the UK and after a short period at the University of Dundee joined the University of Nottingham School of Architecture in 1991. There he created a series of interdisciplinary theory courses and studios aimed at developing a radically new model of design education. In 1993 these were incorporated into the Design Research Studio (DRS), a research and team-based design course at Nottingham, followed in 1996 by the Bio-Tech Architecture Workshop, both of which experiments have been published.

In 1997 he left Nottingham University to live and work as an independent writer and scholar at his home in Malta. He continued to write and to travel widely and was sponsored on conferences and lecture tours in the Far East by both the Commonwealth Association of Architects and the British Council. In 2003, at Norman Foster's request, he worked as co-curator with Foster on the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition "Sky High: Vertical Architecture" for which he coined the term in the subtitle - a new term for innovations in high-rise architecture which has since been widely accepted.

In 2004, sponsored by the late Harry Seidler he immigrated to Australia under the special category of Distinguished Talent, gaining his Australian citizenship in 2007. During the same period he taught at both the University of Sydney (USYD) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW), where he created and ran his Vertical Architecture STudio (VAST). He also continued to lecture and teach in other countries and was selected as Hyde Chair of Excellence in Architecture for 2008 at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln (UNL), where he also ran a VAST program based in the city centre. In 2012 he was awarded a PhD by the University of Sydney for his doctoral thesis, "The Extended Self: Architecture, Memes and Minds," an edited and expanded version of which recently won a major international book award. In the same year he returned to the UK to live in Northern Ireland, where he was appointed Honorary Visiting Professor at Belfast School of Architecture, Ulster University. In 2017 he resettled in France where he now lives with his partner Margaret Perrin in the Paris suburb of Champigny sur Marne. Together with The Extended Self (2015) and the new edition of his collected essays, Architecture and Identity (2017), his latest book, The Self-Field: Mind, Body and Environment published by Routledge (2021), completes a trilogy of theoretical and critical works on the formation of individual and cultural identities.