Five things that I hope to see:
Thinking differently: Projects that have done something truly surprising! There’s now a huge amount out there about carbon and sustainability – so what has your project done that no-one else has yet thought of, and how can we all learn from the processes that led you there?
Breaking the mould: Projects where an unconventional team in training and expertise has come together to think differently about a problem, resulting in new (and surprising) ideas. We might perceive putting together such a team as being easier on small project commissions, but I’d love to see how it can be done successfully on large-scale projects too.
50/50: There has only been one female winner of the IStructE Gold Medal in the last 100 years. I’d like to see more female-led projects, and evidence from project teams that they are addressing the perception amongst young people that ours is a male domain.
- Right material in the right place: Modern methods using steel, cement aluminium and glass have dominated construction since the 19th century – I’d love to see projects that celebrate, use, and build on the vast expertise in building techniques and materials that we humans collected before then!.
The code made me do it!: Codes and legislation tend to change very slowly. I’d like to see projects that properly examine such requirements, and then satisfy and exploit them to achieve low carbon design. There is a vast potential for excellent, sustainable, low impact design that exists within the constraints of existing design codes! How have you used these to touch the earth lightly?.
I’m really excited to be part of the Structural Awards, and look forward to being delighted and surprised by the projects you submit!
About the author
John is a Professor of Structural Engineering, in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge. His research and teaching address climate emergency through interdisciplinary design.
He is passionate about teaching and has been instrumental in developing the first new undergraduate degree at Cambridge for many decades. This new degree brings together architecture, engineering, and materials science to give students the skills required to create new solutions to our present global challenges, including climate emergency.
John’s work with the IStructE Climate Emergency Task Group has included co-authoring the guide “How to Calculate Embodied Carbon”. John was also lead author on “Design for Zero”, published in 2021, which built on academic and industrial work to present a vision for a sustainable future.