Find out how we go about designing a low carbon infrastructure for London

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When I was looking at all the events taking place during the London Design Festival I was very pleased to see that The Royal Academy of Engineering, based just round the corner form Pall Mall and Trafalgar Square, is getting in on the action too.

As Ian Bowbrick, Head of Professional Formation, told me the Academy were invited by Sir John Sorrell, Chairman of the London Design Festival, to take part. “Design and engineering are fundamentally linked and to date the London Design Festi val has embraced other aspects of design but engineering hasn’t really had a platform. So, our inclusion is to give engineering its first involvement in the Festival,” says Bowbrick.

The Academy then put together a programme focussed on a very topical theme: Designing a Low Carbon Infrastructure for London. All the exhibitions, events, debates and activities taking place from 20 to 23 September 2010 will tackle this issue on how to make low carbon living for Londoners a reality in the future. “Rather than put together a group of disparate activities we decided to have a central theme around the area of low carbon and carbon management,” explains Bowbrick. “I think the issue for everybody involved in this area is that the technology is very clearly defined but the most important stage we are faced with now is getting the general public to actually understand and take up the technology. What we are doing by holding this programme is to create a platform for people in the transport, innovation and buildings areas to try and make that link with the general public.”

The first day of the programme is focussed on transport and examines the challenges currently being faced by London and Londoners in the daily battle of getting from A to B, and presents an insight into some of the latest technology and planning possibilities that could make the capital a greener city and ease congestion. During the day the Switch EV (below), an electric car project that has won funding through the Technology Strategy Board’s Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator Programme, will be on display in the forecourt of the Academy for those attending the events on that day to have a nose around and actually sit inside. The designers of the vehicle will also be on hand to answer any questions visitors may have. “With electric cars we are used to seeing small boxy vehicles that aren’t very attractive. But the technology and designs have moved on significantly and a lot of people haven’t seen these. In addition, some people have never sat in an electric vehicle so they don’t know how the controls are different, what the pedal configuration is and how they know when it needs recharging,” says Bowbrick.

The panel debate also taking place on the 20th – Is it time to design the motor vehicle off London’s streets? – should be an interesting one to attend. Chaired by Terry Morgan, Chairman of Crossrail, this debate will no doubt appeal to many people as we all have views as to what the capital’s future transport should look like. “We’ve had lots of interest so far in this panel debate from policy makers, engineers, designers and even school pupils who want to be part of the debate. Everyone has an opinion, you don’t have to be a technocrat to take part in the debate,” he says.

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There are certainly some interesting talks, lectures and panel debates planned for the other three days of the programme too with some pretty high profile speakers including Richard Farleigh of Dragon’s Den fame, who will be giving a talk on the subject of ‘The battle of a business angel’ and Gareth Jones, Visiting Professor in Innovation at Imperial College, who will be giving a lecture on ‘Design and Innovation: Can creative engineering improve our lives?’ “The lectures are being pitched so the technology is accessible to everybody – you don’t need to have an engineering background or degree to understand what we are taking about. That has been deliberately done by us so people can understand and access the technology,” says Bowbrick.

A full programme can be downloaded here or for further information you can contact Ian Bowbrick at {encode=”ian.bowbrick@raeng.org.uk” title=”ian.bowbrick@raeng.org.uk”} or 020 7766 0604.

I will certainly be going along to some of the talks and lectures as I’m keen to find out what people think a low carbon future in London will look like.


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