Future of Design will feature experienced designers with presentations on current cutting edge designs as well as discussions about the future challenges of our profession.

The titles of the keynote presentations to be delivered at the conference are as below. Delegates will also get to choose from two groups of six short presentations from qualifying successful entrants from the Young Designers’ Competition. A published programme with further details shall be published here prior to the conference.

Chris Wise,Expedition,They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance
Dr Robin Sham,AECOM,From here to eternity
Neil Thomas,Atelier One,Why not?
Brian Duguid,Mott MacDonald,What is the future of design – Observations from the Northern Hub
Anna Liu & Mike Tonkin,Tonkin Liu,Within nature
Richard Hornby,Arup,Queensferry Crossing – A Unique Design
Peter Miller,Severfield,Installation options for steel bridges in restricted sites
Alison Watson,Class of Your Own,British’s school children are the Future of Design (featuring students from St Ambrose Barlow RC High School)
Xavier De Kestelier,Foster + Partners,Designing for Extreme Environments : 3D printed Lunar Base

Chris Wise


Born in 1956, Chris joined Ove Arup and Partners in 1979. After working in UK, Australia and USA, he became Arup’s youngest ever Director in 1992, later appointed one of five Board Directors responsible for Building Engineering. He co-founded Expedition in 1999 and has developed the company over the past thirteen years into a leading niche engineering consultancy. In 2012, Chris was honoured with two Gold medals, receiving the highest individual award from both the IStructE and ICE in recognition of his contribution to the engineering industry throughout his career.

Dr Robin Sham


Dr. Robin Sham is the Global Long Span Specialty Bridge Director of AECOM with a career spanning over three-and-a-half decades and several continents. He was the Institution of Civil Engineers (UK) Gold Medalist in 2013 and was recognized as a key innovator in the Taizhou Bridge project which received the Construction Innovation Forum (US) NOVA Award for Innovation in 2014.
Dr Sham received his doctorate from Imperial College London and saw active service in motorway construction in the northwest of England and in the Second Severn Crossing project, amongst many other campaigns in the UK.
His contributions to long span bridge engineering worldwide included the Sutong and Stonecutters Bridges, two of the world’s longest cable-stayed bridges, and the Taizhou Bridge, the world’s first long-span, three-pylon, and two-main span suspension bridge.
Three-and-a-half decades into his career, he says he definitely recommends civil engineering as a most satisfying career for the aspiring younger generation.

Neil Thomas

Atelier One

Neil Thomas is the Founder & Director of Atelier One, which has been described as ‘the most innovative Engineering Practice in the UK’. Atelier One has gained an international reputation as a Structural Engineering Practice specializing in challenging projects. Collaborations with Architects, Artists, and Designers have resulted in many interesting built projects such as Gardens by the Bay with Grant Associates & Wilkinson Eyre, London 2012 & Sochi 2014 Olympics Opening Ceremonies, Cloud Gate with Anish Kapoor and ‘The Claw’ Stage for U2’s 360 Degree World Tour, with Mark Fisher. Neil holds a number of high profile posts in the UK & US educational service, most recently being a Visiting Professor to Yale and MIT, and has recently co-written a book titled ‘Liquid Threshold’ which gives insight to the complex challenges of a number of extraordinary projects. Neil was elected Royal Designer for Industry in 2014.

Brian Duguid

Mott MacDonald

Brian Duguid is a Technical Director and Practice Leader for Bridges at Mott MacDonald. With experience in all areas of bridge engineering, he enjoys the creative and collaborative sides of design. Brian has been involved in a number of design contests, as well as helping to produce IABSE’s International Guidelines for Bridge Design Competitions. He is an Honorary Lecturer in bridge design at the University of Manchester, a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and a member of the IABSE British Group’s Executive Committee. Brian is currently the lead design civil engineer for Network Rail’s Ordsall Chord project.

Anna Liu

Tonkin Liu

Anna is an Architect with over 15 years of experience in architecture, art, and landscape, qualified as an architect in the UK. She graduated in Architecture at Columbia University. Having previously worked for Arup Associates in Hong Kong and in London, she set up Tonkin Liu with Mike Tonkin in 2002. Together they taught at the Architectural Association School of Architecture for four years, exploring studies of patterns in nature and in human nature, a topic they have begun to explore with a Master of Architecture Design Studio at the University of Westminster.

Mike Tonkin

Tonkin Liu

Mike is an Architect and Landscape Architect with over 20 years of experience developing innovative projects in architecture, art, and landscape, qualified as an architect in the UK. He graduated in Architecture at the Royal Collage of Art, London. Mike has taught and lectured at numerous schools of architecture in England and the Far East, and he currently teaches at the University of Bath. He lectures on a number of subjects including world vernacular architecture, using the experience and photographs taken from his extensive travels.

Richard Hornby


Richard Hornby is Director at Arup leading Bridges and Civil Structures for UK, Middle East and Africa, he is also the Main Crossing Technical Manager for the Employer’s Delivery Team for the Queensferry Crossing. His 32 year career has been spent both as Contractor and Designer. Initially working for Rendel Palmer and Tritton on projects such as Rodenkirchen Bridge over the Rhine and Rion Antirion over the Gulf of Corinth. He then joined Cleveland Bridge and was responsible for the inception of the construction schemes, alternative designs and early contractor involvement that included most structural forms for major bridge projects round the world. He has been involved relatively equally in repair and new build of bridges. Since joining Arup, as well working on the Queensferry Crossing from inception to completion, he has designed repairs for the Humber Bridge and 8 major bridges in The Netherlands.

Peter Miller


Peter joined Watson Steel (now part of Severfield plc), 36 years ago as a trainee designer after graduating from Bolton Institute of Higher Education (now Bolton University) with a Degree in Civil Engineering. He became a Chartered Structural Engineer in 1983.
During his early career he gained experience in all departments including the Drawing Office / Design Office / Fabrication workshops before working on sites where he found his niche. He worked in all levels of management before being promoted to Construction Director at the age of 40.
In 2001, Watson Steel joined the Severfield Group and Peter took over his current role as Business Development Director. In this role he uses his vast experience to identify and develop new business opportunities.

Alison Watson

Class of Your Own

Alison Watson is a topographical surveyor and creator of ‘Design Engineer Construct!’ (DEC!) an alternative digital built environment learning programme to inspire young people and their teachers to discover a wide range of technical and professional careers.

She is Managing Director of ‘Class Of Your Own’, the company she established to provide contextualised support and opportunities for DEC! students through industry and academic links. Cited in Construction 2025, and winner of the CICES Richard Carter Prize in 2014 and TSA President’s Award in 2013 in recognition of her commitment to education, Alison also represents Youth and Learning on the CITB Council.

Francine Houben


The founding partner and creative director of Mecanoo, is one of The Netherlands’ leading architects. With her practice she has sought to create buildings that ‘touch all the senses.’ Her architecture encompasses ‘emotional, social, playful and humane aspects’ as well as intellectual, conceptual and visual ones. From ground breaking housing projects in her early years, she has gone on to design signature cultural projects. She has been honoured with many awards for her work and was recently granted lifelong membership of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin. In 2014 the UK Architects’ Journal named her as ‘Woman Architect of the Year’.

Xavier De Kestelier

Foster + Partners

Xavier De Kestelier is joint head of Foster + Partners’ Specialist Modelling Group (SMG), the architecture practice’s multi-disciplinary research and development group. His team has acts as a design and technology catalyst and has been involved in ground breaking research in the field of large scale 3d printing.

Over the years Xavier has been a Visiting Professor at Ghent University, Adjunct Professor at Syracuse University and is currently a Teaching Fellow at The Bartlett School of Architecture. Since 2010 , he has been one of the directors of Smartgeometry,a non-profit educational organisation for computational design and digital fabrication.

Two discussion panels will take during the conference:

Antony Oliver will be chairing “Should there be quotas for women in the workforce”

Paul Lambert will be chairing “Is emerging technology a risk to the design professional”

Anthony Oliver

Infrastructure Intelligence

Antony launched Infrastructure Intelligence in January 2014, a new digitally-led media brand from the Association for Consultancy and Engineering. Before that he spent the last two decades immersed in the world of civil engineering and infrastructure as a journalist with New Civil Engineer magazine where for 13 years he was the editor. He is a chartered civil engineer and Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers and spent the first six years of his career as a design engineer with Owen William and Partners and then on site with Balfour Beatty.

Professor Paul Lambert

Mott MacDonald

Paul is Technical Director for Mott MacDonald. He has over 30 years’ experience in the investigation of structural durability and degradation and in the development of novel remedial techniques for bridges and other structures. His team are internationally recognised for their work on cathodic protection and service life prediction. Paul is Visiting Professor at the Centre for Infrastructure Management at Sheffield Hallam.

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