Identifying trends is the core of what I do for Future Ready. There would be too many to list here… My daily role consists of doing research, identifying trends and understanding how they may impact people, communities and cities in the future.
But one interesting trend is mixed-use buildings. To make urban density livable, building design must be adapted and increasingly include multiple types of occupations. For example, we can create a building with a factory on the first floor and residential units above, which is unusual but makes sense in a context of land scarcity and urban densification.
One of my clients last year was a major building products supplier that was trying to understand what the future would look like for them ─ how their product would fit into future cities and how they could prepare for the changing demands of citizens, whether that’s individual people, businesses or government. Cities are changing faster than companies can change, and that’s where WSP can help. With a global network of experts across many sectors, we can perhaps see the future more clearly than our clients can.
How do new technologies influence your work? Can they help provide better service to clients?
Digital technologies bring new opportunities for efficiency, accountability and transparency, and this has incredible benefits for environmental projects. For example, blockchain enables us to monitor the entire supply chain of any product. As a consumer, I could find out every step of the production of the cup of coffee that I had this morning. I’ve worked with our US colleagues with a huge tech client to ensure conflict minerals are not present in the supply chain. If blockchain was better established it would make this a lot easier and more reliable, providing full transparency and traceability throughout the supply chain to ensure products are actually sourced in line with their sustainability claims.
Big data also enables us to constantly monitor the environment, indoors and outdoors, and to adjust accordingly. It’s very useful when managing air pollution or an oil spill, for example. Inside buildings, big data helps provide a better user experience for occupants while improving energy efficiency. It can enable automatic cooling when people are hot, and contribute to wellness.
Big data also allows us to have a more holistic perspective. As engineers, we are designing for people and considering the human factor (“placemaking”). We can’t only think of the physical object.
What’s the first career you dreamed of having as a kid?
Originally, I wanted to be a pilot. But then I wanted to be a musician in an orchestra. It seemed so glamorous to travel the world performing, and I love classical music. I am now a professionally qualified flautist. I’ve been playing the flute since I was 7 and qualified as an Associate of Trinity College London with a Diploma in Music Performance when I was 19. I don’t get as much of a chance to play as I’d like, but I’m hoping to find an orchestra to join in Toronto so that I can get back into performing.