Architecture has been borrowing from Mother Nature for millennia. The first structures were made from natural materials; wood, straw, stone and soils. Many common objects that we use today are inspired by plant life too – burdock burs inspired George de Mestral to invent Velcro in 1955, and wind turbines are inspired by the fins of humpback whales!
Today, as engineers face the issues caused by climate change and high energy consumption, they are drawing on nature again to change the way we build our homes and offices.
Why do skyscrapers sway? Can materials really repair themselves? Can one person cause a bridge to collapse?
QEPrize Ambassador Roma Agrawal has recently released a new book, exploring the mysteries of the built environment. To read an excerpt, click here!
We have five copies of BUILT to give away to our followers on Twitter. To be in with a chance of winning Roma’s new book, simply tweet us a picture of your favourite building, telling us why you love it so much! Make sure to use the hashtag #BUILT and tag @QEPrize in your tweet.
Back in the 90’s, when I was still a child, I was convinced that by the year 2000, cars would be able to fly. At that time, I was unaware of aerodynamics, and remember asking my dad if his Volvo 440 would take off if we opened the front doors. Dad laughed kindly and replied “If only it was that simple!”.
Now we are in 2017 and, to my dismay, flying cars have still not replaced regular ones. However, since then, the kid in the back of his dad’s car has become an engineer, obtained a PhD and is lecturing in computer vision and autonomous systems at Cranfield University. Today I contribute to the next exciting challenge and the future of transport systems: driverless cars.
Student entrepreneurs Siena and India are taking on the food waste challenge with their innovative, fridge scanning app. What started as a classroom project has grown to a working prototype, winning its inventors the Big Bang Fair’s Junior Engineer of the Year award and a shot at pitching their idea at St James’ Palace. We met up with them to find out more!
Tell us a bit more about the Eat Me app. How does it work?
Siena: Eat Me is an IOT solution that helps transform the relationship between the consumer and the amount of food they waste in their homes. We have built a working prototype that turns any fridge into a smart fridge. It scans best before dates, optimises menus, orders food or even alerts another user if you are running out of certain products in your fridge.
Engineering is responsible for the pulleys, wheels and bows and arrows that carried us towards civilisation. It powered the SS Great Britain across the Atlantic and raised the Eiffel Tower. Without engineering, we wouldn’t have powerful computers tucked away in pockets or a direct line to outer space. Since its inception thousands of years ago, engineering has undoubtedly shaped our world. The question we’re addressing this month, however, is what happens next?
The Thames Deckway is an exciting green transport infrastructure project in London. We aim to tackle some of the big urban challenges facing our city and others like it.
With the support of Innovate UK, we are currently working towards realising our technology demonstrator in east London in 2018.
New figures from Transport for London (TfL) show that more people are cycling in the city than ever before. Despite this, currently one bicycle journey in every 515,000 ends in death or serious injury. At the same time, air pollution from vehicle emissions results in a wide range of health impacts, which significantly reduces life expectancy within the city. Compounding on these issues, projections of future climate change paint a bleak picture. For example, with much of the transport network below ground, more than 57 tube stations would be at risk of climate induced flooding.
In just one hour, our sun provides enough energy to supply the world’s electricity for an entire year. This, and many other arguments for solar energy, have made their way into people’s awareness since the 1960s. More recently, concerns over our changing climate have led to an increased interest. Yet solar power has still not been fully embraced. At the time of writing, solar power accounts for a meager 1% of total global energy production.
The technology to capture solar energy exists. Additionally, cheaper and more efficient solar cells are racing their way to industrialization., But ‘more efficient’ doesn’t always ensure adoption by consumers, homeowners and cityscapes. More importantly, adopting a green technology doesn’t always ensure green behavior by the those who use it!
With its hilly location in south-west England and World Heritage status, development projects in Bath must contend with many practical and regulatory challenges. In our upcoming project, young people reject all the rules to commit heritage heresy and re-imagine a future city where absolutely anything is possible.
‘Heritage Heresy’ is an exciting weekend event being held for local young people aged 10-13 in Bath later this year. They will join up with real engineers, architects and city planners to think about the built environment around them and create new visions of Bath.