Tasked with producing a brief for the students to work to, we chose one of the buildings on the recently finished Borough Yards development. This complex scheme has a lot of the elements which can be found in design briefs including retained façades and a client requirement for the scheme to have sustainable credentials such as SuDS and renewable energy sources. The building is also mixed use with offices on the upper floors, retail at ground and a cinema in the double height basement. This required a changing structural grid down the building which means the structural layout would need to be carefully considered in order to justify any transfer structures.
In order for them to produce a scheme design for the building, we were asked to highlight to the students important aspects that we would expect to be addressed at this stage of the design process. These included material choices, structural layout, depth and buildability. The aim was to introduce the students to some common design constraints which they may not be exposed to during their studies, in order to broaden their experience and generate enthusiasm about the types of projects they will encounter over the course of their engineering careers.
One of these constraints, for example, is the buildability of the design. A key skill for an engineer is to be able to critically assess their design to ensure that it is not only theoretically possible, but that it can be built in a safe and efficient manner. This includes minimising the risk of injury to those constructing it as well as ensuring that the amount of material used is appropriate. As such we asked each group to produce a proposed construction sequence for their design and to sketch out key details and plans to illustrate their ideas and to highlight anything they think could be difficult or dangerous to construct.
The students were initially invited into the Evolve studio to be briefed on the project and were then given four weeks to produce a 10-minute presentation to explain how they met the brief as if breaking down their work to a senior colleague. Our engineers then visited the university to watch the presentations, and to provide input and feedback on the design solutions.