The Ove Arup Foundation has agreed to provide a grant towards the research of a highly unusual and striking method of engineering. The Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya are unique, woven as they are from the aerial roots of the Indian Rubber Tree (ficus elastica).
Wilfrid Middleton is set to visit Meghalaya to study the bridges, which grow over years to produce spans of remarkable strength able to withstand floods, earthquakes, and use as public highways.
The living bridges provide a chance for great insight into the strength mechanisms of trees, growth for resilience, and engineering for extreme loading. As a symbiosis between human and natural engineering, they provide a vital piece of the puzzle of biomimetics, a crucial tool in 21st century engineering.
Middleton aims to talk to builders, users, owners and maintainers about the design process and their understanding of the growth mechanisms of ficus elastica to provide the basis for engineering research. The work will bring together engineers, architects, botanists, local builders, environmentalists, and explorers.
The project will have five research outputs:
The first coherent repository of knowledge in the field.
An understanding of the position the bridges hold in their ecosystems and society.
Documentation of the building process, to compare with modern techniques, combining trussed arches with cable-stays.
Through measurements, a conclusion about the bridge structural systems and the force regimes.
We will learn a great deal about earthquake and flood resistance, humidity resistance, optimisation through growth, and self-repair.
The Ove Arup Foundation has recently announced support for the Girl’s Garage project, based in Berkeley, California.
The innovative design and building programme offers a pathway for girls aged 9-13 to explore, improve, and apply creative and technical skills through real-world projects.
One of the primary aims of the project is to tackle inequality in architecture, design and the building trade by enrolling and matriculating 72 girls of mixed nationality, mixed race and low income in its one-year, 10-module course.
Course designers hope that students will experience of the power of creativity and making, as well as increased confidence and community leadership skills. There will also be a strand exploring the many possibilities for continued learning and vocation in fields of architecture, engineering and design.
Girl’s Garage has built a community of over 400 girls and family members who are deeply committed to further building and connecting young underprivileged girls to high-level opportunities related to the built environment. It also has strong partnerships with other organisations and educational institutions including the University of California Berkeley College of Environmental Design (where their founder is a professor), IT companies and local design firms.
The three-day workshop discussed the topic of ‘Disruptive Models of Engineering Education’. The public lecture and debate was given by Professor Christine Ortiz and was attended by 130 people.
Professor Ortiz described her frustration with the inflexibility of the existing system in the US and her decision to step away to start take on the challenge of creating something new within a highly regulated environment. She believes her challenge is to change the inequality experienced by minority groups to gain truly equitable access to quality education.
Details of her lecture will appear on the University of Queensland website:
‘A Review of Sociological Issues in Fire Safety Regulation’ by Graham Spinardi, Luke Bisby and Jose Torero presents an overview of contemporary sociological issues in fire safety. The Ove Arup Foundation has supported research into the sociological issues in fire safety at Edinburgh University for several years.
The Ove Arup Foundation has extended is agreement with the Anglo Danish Society to provide a grant annually for another five years for a post-graduate student to study in the UK or Denmark.
The most recent recipient of the award was PhD student Nicholas Thomas Lee, whose intention was to work on his PhD thesis ‘Dwellscape: The contemporary dwelling interior as a continuation of architectonic space’ at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.
Professor Ian Guymer of the University of Warwick takes up the role to focus on projects that trailblaze new civil engineering interventions and work with others to identify and tackle major infrastructure challenges.
The newly-established role springs from ICE’s ‘Shaping the World‘ initiative, which aims to bring together the influential engineers and thinkers to address the key engineering challenges of our time.
Professor Guymer will draw on his experience as joint lead of University of Warwick’s Sustainable Cities Global Research Priority team to engage across the boundaries with other disciplines such as social sciences, economics, planning and computer sciences, and steer the initiative into priority areas such as resilience and innovation.
“It is an honour to be working with ICE to help enhance the impact of our essential global infrastructure,” said Professor Guymer. “While the technology and healthcare sectors have leapt forward into the future – innovating and experimenting – civil engineering has struggled to accelerate its pace of change.
“Climate change and technological innovations are disrupting construction activities around the world, presenting new challenges for civil engineers. To catalyse changes and advancements in the sector, the Shaping the World programme identifies and supports great ideas, nursing them to fruition.”
The Ove Arup Foundation is providing support for Design Education CIC to run children’s design camps.
Design Education believe that every child in the 21st century should be able to design and make useful products, be they buildings or bicycles. To further that belief, they have been running a range of designing and making educational projects since their founding in 2008.
Consistent with their policy that no child or school should be denied access to these activities, they have always offered reduced rates where finance has been an obstacle to participation.
However, at a typical Design Camp they have to limit the number of assisted places to one or two per workshop in order not to damage the financial viability of the activity. Similarly, to encourage financially challenged schools to run a Design Day, they would like to offer reduced rates to schools with low Pupil Premium budgets.
The outcome of this support will be increased participation in their Design Camps and Design Days by children and schools that might otherwise be unable to join their programmes.
The benefits of engaging in their form of practical designing and hands-on making activities has been demonstrated over a long period of time, with pupils’ attainment raised in a wide range of subjects.
Video from the lecture has just become available, and are available here.
The lecture focused on the complexity of the relationship between architects and the quickening evolution of engineering technology.
The key speaker was Dr Alan Cheville of the T. Jefferson Miers Chair in Electrical Engineering at Bucknell University. Peter Burnton the Arup Group industry advisor to the Civil Engineering Department of the UofQ introduced The Ove Arup Foundation to the colloquia.
The lecture was part of a series of three held with distinguished speakers. The lectures are the centrepiece of three-day colloquia designed to inform and engage key stakeholders.
The Ove Arup Foundation has announced its annual academic award for a student either Danish or British studying in Denmark/UK.
The award for 2016-17 goes to PhD student Nicholas Thomas Lee, who will be working on his PhD thesis ‘Dwellscape: The contemporary dwelling interior as a continuation of architectonic space’ at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.
The aim of his PhD project is to undertake both a theoretical and practical discourse on how we can re-imagine the contemporary dwelling interior.
Lee says: “The domestic interior has great significance given its universality and intimate relationship with its inhabitants. Despite this, the critical debate within the profession is often focused on the exterior architectural expression and rational construction systems neglecting any discourse on the phenomenological qualities of our interior built environment.”
Lee’s teaching plan for the project includes the organisation of seminars and workshops in Copenhagen involving academics and professionals from the UK as well as the other Nordic countries with the aim of establishing greater dialogue and cultural exchange between the different countries at an academic level.
He adds: “Through my PhD I continue to be committed to the development of professional and academic connections between Denmark and the UK.”