Event Report: Future of Design 2014

Organising Committee and IABSE BG Executive Members

On September 18th, 2014, the British Group organised the 6th ‘Future of Design’, a full-day conference and dinner for young designers aimed at promoting design and inspiring future generations.





Josef Hargrave opened the conference, speaking candidly on the need for a ‘cradle to cradle’ approach in engineering. Phillip Hall-Patch and Francis Archer followed with their talk on the Garden Bridge, one of London’s most high profile and conten- tious construction projects. Julia Barfield, meanwhile, delivered an inspiring talk on Kew Gardens’ Treetop Walkway and the Brighton i360.

Keith Brownlie, in sardonic style, defined ‘engineering Zeit- geist’ as ‘fashion, made possible by technology’. His talk focussed on the suggestive nature of structures and people’s changing perceptions. Ralph Parker and Tim Lucas discussed Terminal 2’s new ‘Slipstream structure’ which portrays the flight path cut by a barrel rolling aircraft. Mungo Stacey de- fended passionately the engineer’s value and status in the age of technology. He criticised the view that engineers must find novel ways to raise their profiles in society, advocating they should focus on what they will be judged: the value they can add to their projects.

Twelve young designers, split into two rooms, presented to the assembly. Winners and runners up were chosen by a group of judges for each session. In the first group the winner Audrey Zonco and the runner-up Ann Marie McDonald; in the second group Katerina Vatti and Elyes Aidi respectively.

Mark O’Connor (WSP) and Colin Wilson (GLA) debating ‘Designing London’s Skyline’

Two debates then ran in parallel, the first of which was ‘Ethics in Practice’. I watched the second discuss ‘Designing London’s Skyline’. With the audience’s input it was not long until the ethical implications of high rise were disputed. Considered the reserve of the wealthy, it was contended by many that high rise needs to be limited, perhaps even more so than it is already.

Michel Virlogeux explained the engineering principles behind the Third Bosphorus Bridge in typically flamboyant style. He entertained with stories of sailing in the Caribbean while his friend Jean-François Klein stayed behind to design the bridge pillars. Mark Whitby rattled off his talk ‘twenty bridges’, encouraging young engineers to draw and sketch their ideas. Kirsten Henson rounded off proceedings with a snappy talk on delivering sustainable innovation, stressing the importance of challenging oneself to deliver constant improvement.

Networking before the evening dinner

Networking drinks preceded the evening dinner at the Radisson Blu hotel, which was particularly well attended. Both were a brilliant opportunity for young engineers to mingle in the friendly and welcoming environment so characteristic of IABSE. A big thank you must go to all the sponsoring organisations as well as everyone that helped in making it such a fantastic day.

Oliver Budd, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Future of Design 2014 Organising Committee Member

– More photos from the event can be seen here.