Driving towards a future city


The concept of the ‘Future City’ is ever evolving and adapting around human needs and wants, in all aspects of life. One such element is the freedom of movement, and more recently, the connectivity of people and places through efficient and easy transportation.

We have become used to this freedom, having the power of being able to move where we want, when we want with ease. With vehicles readily available across the world, the advancement in technology has resulted in a complex but exciting challenge to the automotive industry, as it competes to keep up with the fast paced evolution of the ‘Future City’.

Future proofing cities: a helping hand

Future cities

You may have heard of smart cities – a city that takes advantage of connected sensors and devices to make smart decisions based on real time data. But a new term has arrived: ‘Future cities’. This can mean different things to different people. To me, a future city is one that can provide a thriving economy and good quality of life with a minimal environmental footprint. It is resilient to stress and change such as global warming and an ageing population. 

Three global visionaries: Michel Virlogeux

MIllau Viaduct by Richard Leeming is licensed by CC 2.0

Skirting over the tops of the clouds that settle in the valley below, the Millau Viaduct is one of the most breath taking and recognisable bridges in the world.  The bridge, which spans the valley of the River Tarn near Millau in the South of France, is the tallest in the world, with one of its masts stretching 343 metres above its foundations.

The engineer behind the bridge, Dr. Michel Virlogeux, met Keshini Navaratnam, Director of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, to discuss the inspirations and challenges behind creating such a feat of civil engineering.

Three global visionaries: Ilya Espino de Marotta

Panama Canal Expansion Project Image c.o Canal de Panama

Connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, the Panama Canal is a 48-mile, man-made waterway that cuts across Isthmus of Panama.  The canal itself was first opened in 1914 and since then has become a key conduit for international maritime trade; however in recent years, the narrow passageway has proved inefficient in meeting the growing demand for cargo transport.

In 2006, then Panamanian President, Martin Torrijos, proposed the construction of a third set of locks, known as the Panama Canal Expansion Project.  Doubling the capacity of the Panama Canal, the project was finished and the expansion opened in July of this year.  In addition to increasing the number of ships that can travel between oceans by adding an additional lane of traffic, expanding the width and depth of navigational channels allows much larger ships, carrying twice the amount of cargo, to pass through. 

Three global visionaries: William F. Baker


Director of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, Keshini Navaratnam, recently met with leading engineers from around the world to discuss their contributions and successes in the field.  In an exclusive video to be released next month, William F. Baker shares his thoughts.

As a structural engineer, William F. Baker is widely regarded for his contribution to some of the most iconic projects in architecture around the world.  Most prominent on his résumé is Baker’s role in developing the ‘buttressed core’, a structural system that was responsible for bringing the concept the tallest building in the world into a reality. 

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Ultimaker 3D printer

3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is experiencing a boom, as industry seeks ways to cheaply and rapidly develop new designs. The technology sees products or components built layer by layer, following a pattern determined by a computer.  The resulting objects can be any shape or size, rendering a perfect replica of their computer-model counterparts. Traditionally 3D printing has been used to produce prototypes fast, however budding makers are finding ever more uses for the emerging tech.

Engineering the Olympics: Rio 2016

Olympic Park Rio 2016

Four years have passed since we watched the industrial revolution unfold in minutes under Brunel’s watchful eye in London’s Olympic Stadium.  Brought to life by director Danny Boyle, the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games was a feat of engineering in its own right, celebrating the engineers and innovators who led us out of England’s rural past and into the economic and social revolution that brought us here today.  The spectacle even paid homage to inaugural QEPrize winner Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, for transforming the way we communicate.

Life on Mars

'Neuro'; a finalist in the Mars City Design competition
When we imagine the cities of the future, they frequently feature driverless cars and pods zipping effortlessly between buildings. They are often dominated by imposing buildings constructed of shining steel and coated in glass. And they sometimes even hint at the realisation of the age-old dream to travel by hovercraft.  But our imaginings of the places our grandchildren’s grandchildren might one-day call home almost always have one thing in common. They are on Earth.