Quality infrastructure is key to the city’s future development success say London heads Peter Bishop, Colin Stanbridge and Peter Murray.
More from: ICE London Regional Focus: An introduction
London’s built environment is the product of hundreds of years of achievement by civil engineers - from the triumphs of the Victorian sewers and the first Tube lines, to the M25 and the transformations now taking place at Stratford and the Olympic Park.
“The London Development Agency’s vision for London’s future is as a city of communities where people want to live, work, rest and play. We want better places and public spaces. We want new homes built to high design standards,” says London Development Agency deputy chief executive Peter Bishop.
“We want to get the biggest benefits possible from major transport infrastructure projects, such as Crossrail. We want our investments in climate change projects to lay the foundations for low-carbon energy supplies for decades to come.
“”Civil engineers take a visionary piece of design and turn it into a new public space that transforms a community”
Peter Bishop, London Development Agency
“Civil engineers will plan how to develop the land and build the homes and the infrastructure,” says Bishop. “They will take a visionary piece of design and turn it into a new public space that transforms a community. And they will translate concepts into better streets, better homes and better places.
“Civil engineers have been and will be at the cornerstone of every infrastructure project in London, big and small - and we believe a new generation of civil engineers will share our ambition to create an even greater London,” he says.
A recent survey, carried out by ICE London and the London Chamber of Commerce & Industry shows that over 60% engineers and business people believe infrastructure is critical to encouraging business to locate in the capital. High-quality, reliable infrastructure allows the free movement of people and information that a modern city’s business community needs.
“Failure to maintain and improve this vital facet will jeopardise London’s ability to maintain its global competitiveness. Infrastructure that is modern, efficient, fit for purpose and addresses the challenges of climate change is essential for attracting and retaining the world’s best businesses, ideas and skilled workers needed for the future,” says London Chamber of Commerce & Industry chief executive Colin Stanbridge.
While the last 18 months have been extremely difficult, the recent economic downturn also presents a massive opportunity for the development of London’s infrastructure.
Projects like Crossrail, a high speed rail network and the 2012 Olympics will provide skilled engineering opportunities and will bring much-needed regeneration to parts of the capital.
“Obviously, the political process is an important part of this, providing the opportunity for discussion and proposal of alternative solutions,” says Stanbridge.
However, in the past, political wrangling over proposed projects has produced unnecessarily long delays.
Crossrail is now well underway but we must ensure that projects vital to the future competitiveness of London must not be endlessly delayed in this way. The improvement of London’s infrastructure will ensure the capital retains its position as the best place to do business, and enabling it to continue driving the economy.
Creativity key to success
“Not enough is made of London as an international creative hub., an aspect of the capital that will be celebrated during the London Festival of Architecture,” says London Festival of Architecture founding director Peter Murray.
“Film makers, fashion houses, graphic designers and architects are all major earners for the London economy,” he says.
“The success of UK architectural practices is in no small way due to the strength of supportin consultancies - engineers, project managers and cost consultants.
That is why we want to include engineers in the Festival’s Open Studio programme.
“We will be inviting overseas clients to visit London during the Festival so that they can see the exciting talents that we have to offer,” says Murray.
“There will be opportunities for professionals to link up with a local audience. Through “Love Your Street” we hope that communities will work with architects and engineers to carry out projects that will improve neighbourhoods and public spaces.
Times may be tough, but there is also huge enthusiasm to create a better environment. The Festival provides the opportunity to celebrate London’s unique qualities, and get involved in creating a more welcoming city.
Exciting place for learning: BBC 21st Century classroom
ICE London has initiated an ambitious new project to encourage young people into the profession, in partnership with BBC 21st Century Classroom (BBC 21CC) and the London Transport Museum.
“Transitions” is a series of workshops aimed at year 10 students studying diplomas in engineering or construction and the built environment. The name reflects the pace of change currently altering and improving London’s infrastructure, as well as the way these changes increase the mobility of Londoners and visitors to London.
Four groups of 14 and 15 year old diploma students have so far participated in workshops based around different Crossrail stations: Paddington, Tottenham Court Road, Whitechapel, and Canary Wharf - gaining exposure to the real world of work as well as covering a range of technical content and personal and learning skills.
After an initial site visit, the students spent a day and a half at the London Transport Museum working with volunteer ICE ambassadors to solve real engineering problems, such as how to build under water and what to do with excavated material.
The students then spent two days working with media professionals at BBC 21CC’s West London studios, learning how to combine film-making and animation to produce a new engineering TV programme aimed at younger children.
Pat Vale, from BBC 21CC, who led the media workshops was impressed to see how quickly the students embraced the new technology and took on new skills such as script writing and editing. “They did an excellent job of targeting their programme to a young audience, bringing complex engineering processes such as tunnel boring and station design to life through their own words and pictures,” he said.
“The Transitions Project has helped to bring aspects of diploma units to life,” said teacher Rob Griffin from Sawyers Hall College in Brentwood. “I have witnessed my students thinking imaginatively while exploring different ideas for dealing with the unique issues they faced on-site. They have also become more confident working with others.”
Crossrail director of talent and resources Valerie Todd values the ICE London project. “It is vital for programmes like Crossrail to invest in the next generation, foster talent and inspire young people. “We are delighted to work with the ICE, BBC 21CC and the London Transport Museum to give these students the opportunity to work on real engineering problems, and I look forward to seeing their solutions,” she said.
The project will culminate in a showcase event at the London Transport Museum in April at which participants will present their work before an invited audience.