President's Page March 2017


Ben Bradford

During my Presidential tour of Asia, and closer to home, when visiting our regions around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, I have spoken about the challenges facing our built environment.I’ve spoken about resilience. Resilience is the capacity of any entity – an individual, a community, an organisation, or a natural system to prepare for disruptions, to recover from shocks and stresses, and to adapt and grow from a disruptive experience.I’ve also spoken about the concept of resilient design strategies.

Resilient design strategies

I’ve always felt that compliance should be a by-product of good design. But is it time to think beyond regulatory compliance and seek out intelligent solutions for smarter, more resilient space, facilities, and infrastructure? Is it time to think about ‘resilient design strategies’?
In the 21st century, building resilience is one of our most urgent social and economic issues because we live in a world that is defined by disruption. Not a month goes by that we don’t see some kind of disturbance to the normal flow of life somewhere; a cyber-attack, a new strain of virus, a structural failure, a violent storm, a civil disturbance, an economic blow, a natural system threatened.There are three disruptive phenomena that are distinctly modern: urbanisation, climate change, and globalisation. The world’s population is more rapidly urbanising than at any time in human history, forming into highly concentrated urban and metropolitan areas, some of truly astonishing proportion. I’ve witnessed this first-hand when travelling to cities like Hong Kong or perhaps Lagos, Nigeria. The second 21st century problem is climate change which, in the last decade, has emerged as an undeniable contributor to the severity and extent of disruptions we must deal with. The third factor is globalisation, which has accelerated the pace of change, introduced new and unaccustomed risks, added complexity to our systems, and increased the amount of volatility we face.Designing buildings to effectively meet the conditions and realities of a world faced with new hazards and emerging risks will require a shift in our current understanding of what constitutes good building design and sound building practice. I have been thinking about fire, security, continuity and resilience for a while now, and it is clear that resiliency is not any single solution, concept or perspective. Resiliency is a multi-faceted lens, which balances proactivity and reactivity to inform solutions to disruptions. Resilient design is taking that lens and using it to rethink the built environment. To enable buildings and communities to survive and thrive in the face of terrorism, climate change, and other disruptions, we need to ensure resilient design is globally accepted and implemented in every built environment as a path to a more sustainable world.  I’ll be returning to the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland this month, and also meeting members of our Eastern and Southern Regions.

Marathon training continues

My training in preparation for the London Marathon on the 23 April 2017 continues. I am slowly racking up the miles, and now I tend to do a slow 20 kilometre run on a weekend, and a few short, but faster runs during the week. These are usually between 7-10 kilometres. I’m running the London Marathon for Engineers without Borders (UK) and Action against Hunger. These are two very worthy charities I feel close to. If you can, please do visit my fundraising page and also their websites and last month’s Presidential page, I mentioned the good work of Engineers without Borders, and in this month’s page I’d like to briefly mention Action against Hunger. 

Action against HungerPP Mar 2017

For almost 40 years, across nearly 50 countries, Action against Hunger has led the global fight against hunger. Their work is now more important than ever. They save the lives of children and work with their communities before and after a disaster strikes. They enable people to provide for themselves, see their children grow up strong, and build prosperous communities. They push for long-term change and will never give up – until the world is free from hunger.
At the core of their approach is innovation, constantly searching for more effective solutions, while sharing their knowledge and expertise with the world. They recognise that sometimes the best solutions are to use the tools and knowledge of the communities to find local answers to local questions. Tackling the causes of hunger has led them to address systems and structures to develop new medicines and treatments, to design and build new water supplies and educate communities around the importance of hygiene. The UK office also has world leading teams in co-ordinating disaster preparedness teams across the world and teams leading cutting edge research through a global network of monitoring and evaluation.

Ben Bradford