Richard Barras is an urban economist who studied Mechanical Sciences and Computer Science at the University of Cambridge and Economics at the University of London. He undertook research on the economics of property markets at the Centre for Environmental Studies and on the impact of information technology on service industries at The Technical Change Centre. In 1996 he was awarded a Doctorate by University of Cambridge for his published work on commercial property cycles.
He was appointed Visiting Professor in the Department of Real Estate and Planning at the University of Reading in 1998, and Visiting Professor in the Bartlett School of Planning at University College London in 2011. Between 1999 and 2002 he was a Trustee of the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment. From 2001 to 2010 he acted as Property Advisor to the UK’s Coal Pension Funds. He is one of the founding partners of Property Market Analysis, which is now the largest independent property consultancy in Europe.
His book entitled Building Cycles: Growth and Instability was published by Wiley-Blackwell in September 2009. Its central argument concerns the unique nature of building investment. Acting simultaneously as a driver of growth and a store of wealth, it is the source of the most volatile cyclical fluctuations in an economy, leaving a legacy of successive vintages of building stock, each of which reflect the economic, social and cultural conditions of their era. This perspective leads to a historical analysis of the long-term role of building investment in economic growth and urban development.