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Honesty in Structural Design

  • Rob Nield




BCU STEAMhouse – Lab Room



From arches and diagrids to folded plates and vierendeels, we explore how clear and honest structural forms should be inherently elegant and sit effortlessly within our environment, utilising the minimum amount of material whilst realising the architectural ambition. 

Covering a brief history of structural design and giving a nod to some of the key engineers of the past, the talk uses project examples – including the new High Speed 2 station at Birmingham Interchange and One Centenary Way at Paradise Circus to explain the constraints which drive a design and how a scheme is developed from simple sketch ideas and brought to life using the latest analysis and optimisation software, visualisation technology and construction techniques. 

Looking to the future, as urbanisation and human population growth increase the pressure on our planet’s precious resources, we look at how structural engineers are rethinking their approach to construction to deliver a safe, resilient and net zero carbon built environment.


Rob Nield

Associate at Arup

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Associate at Arup

Rob is a structural engineer with a passion for creating innovative, efficient and elegant structures.

Having worked with some of the best architectural practices throughout his career he has developed award winning structural designs on projects around the world ranging from solid stone staircases and timber pavilions to air traffic control towers and railway stations.

He is an Associate at Arup, an independent firm of designers, consultants and engineers, where he currently leads the structural design on the Paradise Circus redevelopment in central Birmingham and the new High Speed 2 station at Interchange.

He strongly believes that all buildings should be designed with sustainability in mind, making best use of finite resources and believes that the industry must challenge the status quo in order to innovate.

Rob recently co-founded ‘Make:It Brum’ alongside local architectural practice Intervention Architecture – a community engagement collaboration which aims to inspire the next generation of designers and promote diversity in the built environment professions.


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BCU STEAMhouse – Lab Room

STEAMhouse is a unique new space for innovation through interdisciplinary collaboration. Powered by Birmingham City University, their free workshops and events allow people to share and develop their ideas with experts from many different backgrounds. The venue has specially designed spaces to encourage businesses to incubate new ideas, and prototype new products and services. It also houses a fabrication facility where members can experiment with digital, wood, metal and print production.

STEAMhouse is located on Digbeth High Street, a stone’s throw from the city centre.

  • Nearby Parking
  • Wheelchair Access
  • Toilets
  • Accessible Toilets

108 Digbeth,
Birmingham, UK

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