About Engineering Thinking
Exploring the big issues that will affect us – and how we can tackle them – is a key part of how we as engineers play an essential role in the future of our world.
We encourage education, discussion and debate, bringing together like-minded people in our industry to think about the things that impact us and what we can do to make a difference. The Happold Foundation believes that urbanisation, scarcity of resource and climate change are key areas that need our focus. From raising awareness amongst those who can help us instigate change, to working closely with others in the sector to identify actions that need to be taken, we centre on exploring ideas and solutions to improve the foundations of our communities. We want our work to reach the widest possible audience, promoting how engineers can change the path of the built environment for the benefit of all.
We believe that knowledge sharing and debate are essential to both our personal growth as engineers and to the offering we have as a profession overall. So, the Happold Foundation host a series of conversations that are designed to encourage engaging thought leadership discussions around key topics in the industry. From addressing issues such as global energy issues in the UK to considering next steps for urban development in the UK, we provide neutral ground for people from all backgrounds to come and participate in discovering solutions for today’s challenges. Our conversations lead to real answers; encouraging some of the most influential industry leaders and some of the rising stars in our sector to input into the debate.
City Conversations – Will Carbon offsetting get us to Zero Carbon? – 17th November 2019
At what point is it okay to offset? Is it better than doing nothing or does it stop us confronting difficult truths? There are a number of offsetting schemes that channel money from those who are willing to pay to those who need the funds for low carbon projects.
It is increasingly becoming a key component of the response to the Climate Emergency, especially for organisations that wish to achieve zero carbon status in the next ten years. But is this morally acceptable?
The sharing economy can lead to a more equitable sharing of space and time and the rewards of work. How does it change the way we create and use the infrastructure of a city? It is argued that there is a deeper rethinking of the economics of living in cities. These ideas are not new, but the theoretical ideas are more tangible on a wider scale as a result of new technologies.
Cities the size of London will never be able to grow enough food to feed the population – that much is without doubt. However, it still seems desirable to get food production closer to the consumer to make it more sustainable, and to reduce the food miles of what we consume and we release less CO2 into the atmosphere.
City Conversations: The Invisible City 3 – 2oth April 2019
Not since the Clean Air Acts of the 1950s has the imperative to change the way we dump our waste into the air been so urgent. These days it is the effects of invisible gases such as NO2 along with particulates produced by the burning of fossil fuels that are creating an epidemic of respiratory and other health problems related to air quality.
If the world is dragging its feet on climate change, should we be looking to harness the greater awareness of poor air quality in cities to bring more urgency to political and practical action on the former?
City Conversations: The Playful City 22 January 2019
People are divided in their acceptance of those, often unplanned, playful spaces where the population can indulge in marginal activities with very little administrative and commercial control. Examples of this include skateboarding and rollerblading, recreational cycling, park games such as frisbee and rounders, climbing and running, parkour and ‘wall and ball’ sports such as handball and fives. Places are important to allow these activities to happen. Watersports, for example, rely on access to rivers, docks, lakes and ponds for swimming, rowing and sailing.
This Conversation posed the questions: Do cities need to create more opportunities for these activities to happen? Can they be planned and can we make them both attractive and safe at the same time?
City Conversations: Segregation and Safety 3 July 2018
After a huge increase in recent years, it is thought that still only about 2% of London journeys are undertaken by bicycle. This seems to compare unfavourably with, for example, cities like Copenhagen where more than 40% of the population commute or go to school by bike. Key to this success is a sense of security cyclists feel on the streets of their city. What is it that makes these cities more successful in attracting a higher proportion of people to travel by bicycle?
We often see the city as a huge physical presence dominating our conscious experience. But often it is the non-visual stimuli – the invisible aspects of the city – that have a greater impact on the well-being on those living and working there.
A breath of fresh air – how can we bring back natural ventilation? Tuesday 28 November 2017
Active cooling systems are the default response to overheating in city office buildings. Sealing the envelope to protect the interior from noise, dust and fumes is the justification. But many believe we are entering a new era where reduced impact from new technologies and cleaner cities – will change this development dynamic. A greater understanding of the impact of ‘control’ and ‘productivity’ on the wellbeing of occupants is also a driving factor. This Conversation looked at whether we are entering a new era of passive design and environmental engineering and, if so, how we should prepare for it.
Rebalancing UK Cities – is infrastructure enough? Thursday 11 October 2017
Post-Brexit, the UK’s economic and international competitiveness will depend on all cities being able to reach their full potential. Furthermore, our major cities need to be able to have the right relationship with each other in both economic and infrastructure terms, to aid the flow of people, ideas and capital. This Conversation explored the economic and infrastructure issues beyond London and the South East.
Adapting the City for an Era of Electric Vehicles Thursday 28 September 2017
The UK Government has announced that in just over 20 years there will be no more new fossil fuel vehicles on the market. This Conversation event discussed the implications of this move. For example, how should we adapt our cities to function with electric vehicles (EVs), and what are the implications for architecture and infrastructure?
Skyscraping Wednesday 21 June 2017
Neil Billet, Design Director BuroHappold Engineering, reports on this discussion around the perceived need for cities to build taller. Many previous events around this topic have been dominated by their de-humanising aspects in terms of economic, wellbeing and in particular their impact on the skyline. This conversation sought to explore these and also add the perspective of sustainability to the debate, both from positive and negative standpoint.
The Craft of Automation 30 March 2017
The title of this Conversation is clearly set up the juxtaposition of two ideas: craft – made by hand – and automation – the use of equipment in a manufacturing process. We set out to explore how these have an effect on the cities in which we live and work today, and those which we, as engineers and architects, will leave as our legacy.
Home in the City [Housing] 15th June 2016
Can housing be considered part of the infrastructure of a city. Do new forms of living live/working become part of the ‘competitive fabric of the city. How can we ensure housing become community?
How are Infrastructure decisions made? [Decision Making] 11th May 2016 How are city infrastructure decisions made? Is there the right balance of democracy, political expediency, long-term planning? Who provides the finance?
Why should Cities Grow? [City Growth] 6th April 2016
In some ways the modern city is defined not by formal boundaries but by its transport and ICT links. Does the rapidly changing market economy therefore contradict traditional notions of city planning? Are we taking the right approach to our suburban hinterland and ‘green belt’? How can we maintain a sustainable and resilient city in terms of competitiveness, employment, transport, housing and quality of life?
The Material City [Materials] 8th March 2016
Are the traditional materials of a city part of its essential identity or are they no longer fit for purpose? Must environmental and wellbeing considerations take precedence when deciding how we build? Should infrastructure by recyclable or is it there in perpetuity?
The Invisible City [Smart cities] 25 February 2016
If a city’s wellbeing is defined by its infrastructure how do we make sure we are engaged with the new ‘smart’ technologies of the modern economy? How can we use these technologies to make the invisible city visible?
2014 – 15:
Energy Conversations was a series of informative thought-leadership discussions around the supply and use of energy. Aimed at planners, developers, designers, suppliers and building occupiers they explore key political, planning and technical issues which influence sustainable buildings. In this third year of events, we are looking at City Energy strategies including Demand Management, Heat, Transport, Energy and Waste and Keeping Cool. They are produced by BuroHappold with ngenuity Ltd, sponsored by The Happold Foundation and supported by Rehau and The Building Centre.
City Heat Strategies – Normally London consumes twice as much heat as power, but heating is often overlooked in the energy debate. “City heat strategies” was therefore our focus for the latest Energy Conversations event, supported jointly by the Happold Foundation and REHAU. Is it possible to be smarter with how we generate and distribute heat in the UK? Are district heating networks appropriate for the UK, and can Copenhagen’s success with district heating be replicated? These were the questions that our five speakers were asked to consider when presenting at the event.
City Transport Strategies – How are we going to reach the carbon targets of 2050, how might our cities look, and importantly, how do we persuade people to change their habits?
Demand Management – The winter is coming and the electricity industry is already nervous since excess supply capacity will only exceed demand by 4% during winter 2014-15. This was one of many topics covered in the “Energy Conversations” event on Demand Management which was supported jointly by the Happold Foundation and REHAU and marked the start of this year’s “Energy Conversations” series. However, this winter’s notice of insufficient system margin (NSIM) is only one of the problems that the UK’s electricity industry has to face in order to provide secure, affordable and sustainable supplies. How did we actually reach this critical point and are there any solutions? Our four knowledgeable contributors to the debate provided varied perspectives on this difficult challenge.
Energy & Waste – Over the past 20 years not much has changed in the way we manage and utilise our waste in the UK. Each year we export around 8m tonnes of waste to Europe for energy production, reducing the burden on our small number of energy-from-waste plants whilst simultaneously filling the void on the continent, here waste is in short supply relative to installed capacity. But is the UK also in danger of heading toward over capacity? Could this create problems for meeting our recycling targets of 70% by 2030? And how are we managing in city centres, where disposal and extraction of energy from waste streams is a particular challenge?
Education is important at all stages of a career in the build environment. We run a number of different public lectures throughout the year that are designed to inform and challenge those working in and studying the built environment. Hosted by experts in their field, our lectures cover topics that we as a charity consider to be vital to the development of our industry and society as a whole. We believe in making education wide reaching, engaging and assessable, so we offer a range of lectures on different specialist areas for engineers at various stages of their careers. Forming a key part of our events calendar, 2017’s Happold Lecture was held on April 5 in New York. The lecture featured keynote speaker Harriet Tregoning, and explored the physical and social consequences of climate change in the US.
Happold Foundation Happold Lecture 2017
2017 saw the Happold Lecture take place in New York City for the first time. Themed Rebuilding or Relocating: How to Respond to Climate Change, the lecture featured Harriet Tregoning (Obama’s Chief Resilience Officer), BuroHappold’s Kate Ascher, Bates College’s Elizabeth Rush and David Waggoner of Waggonner&Ball Architects. https://youtu.be/6he1Khud5eQ https://youtu.be/DFTQBw2wK0Q
Happold Foundation Happold Lecture 2016
2016 – ‘Climate Change: Been there, seen that, proved it?’ by Emily Shuckburgh, Deputy Head of the Polar Ocean Division at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), 17 March 2016 IET Savoy Place. https://youtu.be/nokkfMbK06w
Ted Happold Memorial Lecture, Royal Society of Arts 2006
‘Adapting to a Changing Coastline in East Anglia’ Prof. Tim O’Riordan, Emeritus Professor of Environmental Science at the University of East Anglia and working with the Tyndale Centre of Climate Change Research on a project aimed at designing sustainable coast lines for the future.
2004 ‘New Ways of Engineering for Developing Economies’ Himanshu Parikh
2001 ‘Urban Engineering for Sustainable Development’ Prof. Peter Guthrie, Professor of Engineering for Sustainable Development, Cambridge University
1999 ‘Do You Want to Control the Temperature?’ Prof. Max Fordham OBE, Vice President, CIBSE
1998 ‘Representation in Building’ Steven Groak, Director, Ove Arup
Construction Industry Council Happold Lecture (CIC) 2013 – ‘Collective responsibility for a sustainable industry’, by Robin Nicolson CBE, former chairman of the Construction Industry Council (1998 – 2000)
2012 – ‘Who holds the pencil?’ by Keith Clarke CBE, former chairman of the Construction Industry Council (2008-2010),
2011 – Can we get there from here?’ by Paul Morrell, OBE, the government’s Chief Construction Adviser
2008 – ‘Engineering Sustainable Architecture‘ by Patrick Bellew, Founding Director of Atelier Ten – Royal Aeronautical Society – Boeing Room
2007 – ‘House Building – A Lost English Art?‘ by Sir Peter Hall, Professor of Planning at the Bartlett School of Architecture & Planning, University College London and President of the Town and Country Planning Association
2005 – ‘The Regeneration of Manchester – The Rebuilding of The City‘ by Sir Howard Bernstein, Chief Executive, Manchester City Council – Institute of Civil Engineers, Telford Hall
2001 – ‘Building Sustainable Britain plc‘ by Tessa Tennant, Co-founder of the Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia, and is on the UK Government’s Advisory Committee for Business and the Environment – Guildhall, City of London
2000 – ‘Natural Capitalism, The Next Industrial Revolution‘ by Amory Lovins, Chief Executive of the Rocky Mountain Institute, Colorado, USA – RIBA Florence Hall
1998 – ‘Building for the Future: Town and Country in Sustainable Development‘ by Sir Crispen Tickell GCMG KCVO, Convenor of the British Government Panel on Sustainable Development – Church House, Westminster
The Green Program Scholarships
Seeking to provide university students beginning their career the chance to gain hands on, meaningful experience working and learning abroad, the GREEN Program offers short-term programs in sustainable development. With opportunities across four continents, the program combines invaluable work experience with the chance to contribute to solving some of the world’s most challenging issues. The Happold Foundation has partnered with the GREEN Program Scholarship initiative to help sponsor low income, high potential student leaders on a future GREEN program. Recognising the need to ensure that education and work experience is available to all, the scholarships help to support students who would not otherwise be able to afford the program. To find out more and apply, visit The GREEN Program Website.
2018 GREEN Program Scholars
In 2018 we were able to provide funding to allow three students to take part in the GREEN Program. Read more about the program and the students’ experiences.
Tymber Felts 19-year-old International Studies student Tymber Felts undertook the Renewable and Sustainable Energy program in Reykjavik, Iceland. The placement focused on how one of the greenest countries on the planet puts renewable energy practices in place, and gave Tymber the experience of working outside of the US. Read more about Tymber’s placement.
Ramon Crespo Ramon Crespo, an Electrical Engineering student at California Polytechnic State University, joined the GREEN Program on their Disaster Mitigation and Nuclear to Renewable Transitions placement in Fukushima, Japan, to study the past, present and future practices following the 2011 earthquake in the region. Read more about Ramon’s placement.
Camille McCall Camille McCall undertook her Green Program placement in May 2018, travelling to Cursco, Peru. The program looks at water recourse management, and how sustainable agriculture and environmental technologies can be integrated in urban and rural locations. Read more about Camille’s placement.
Workshops & Sprints
We provide funding to run workshops that explore how we can take action on issue facing the built environment. Workshops the Happold Foundation has funded have featured a diverse range of topics, all aimed at starting the discussion around how engineering can offer solutions for people and communities. Recently we have been involved in a workshop at the Metropolitan solutions conference in Berlin, which aimed to support Germany’s response to the current refugee crisis. Discussions included how to create a sense of place for people displaced on the outskirts of the city.
We are interested in exploring the difference in perspective when considering changes in technology in different environment. Our sprint series sets a brief for a short, four-hour workshop that can be run by different organisations in different geographic locations. The brief is built around exploring how a change enabled by future technology could change the way we live in our environment. The outputs from all the workshops are then shared to allow comparison of the different perspectives, each based on the same brief. The first of these sprints has explored the potential impact of automatic guided vehicles on the design of our urban environment. If you would like to enter a team in one of our sprints please contact email@example.com Our latest Design Sprint took place in London earlier this year. Watch the video to find out more. https://youtu.be/MJoteKQgnbA