Structural design visionary Tristram Carfrae will be speaking tonight at The Royal Academy of Engineering about the importance of innovation and creativity in engineering and will share the inside story on the award-winning Beijing Olympic landmark, the Water Cube. His lecture will be the fourth in the Academy’s ‘Prime Innovator’ series.

Tristram Carfrae, innovative structural engineer, Principal and Arup Fellow, will be offering some insights into encouraging creativity from his experience of working on some of the world’s most eye-catching buildings.

With a reputation for pushing the boundaries of engineering to arrive at imaginative solutions, he will offer a masterclass on design.

In his talk, Tristram will suggest how companies can stimulate innovation, consider the characteristics of creative people and reveal how Arup cultivates imaginative ideas within a risk averse context. He will draw on past achievements such as the Water Cube - Beijing’s National Aquatics Centre for the 2008 Olympics, which received the Academy's 2009 MacRobert Award.

He will also detail:

  • The need for sustainability and ‘delightful efficiency’ in the built environment
  • His approach to design
  • The organisational characteristics that support creativity at Arup
  • Plus some aspects of the collaborative award-winning design of the Water Cube

Tristram has recently worked on the impressive Helix Bridge in Marina Bay Sands, Singapore; the world’s first curved double-helix bridge inspired by the shape of DNA, which has received widespread acclaim, including a trio of design awards from the Singapore Structural Steel Society.

He has also recently completed projects including Kurilpa Bridge in Brisbane and AAMI Park Stadium in Melbourne, with the Adelaide Oval and Singapore Sports Hub currently under design.

Tristram was notably behind the design of the Beijing Olympics Water Cube, which reflects his notion that good buildings should be sustainable, useful and beautiful. He has collaborated with some of the world’s leading Architects, including Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers and Philip Cox, on projects where the structural form is itself an aesthetic statement and in 2006 was appointed as a Royal Designer for Industry by RSA in recognition of his achievements in engineering design.

He was also awarded the Milne Medal by IABSE and was named as one of Australia’s Top 100 most influential engineers, scooping the title of Australian professional Engineer of the Year in 2001.

“Good buildings should consume less materials, energy, time and money while at the same time providing greater amenity and being beautiful, yet to imagine such buildings engineers must be encouraged to be innovative and creative,” said Tristram Carfrae, Chair Global Building Practice at Arup.

“The new engineer must be able to push boundaries, be happy wallowing in complexity and analysing vast quantities of data plus as well as be equipped to make fluid and responsive judgements. But the idea is, that informed by collaboration, engineers should produce projects that are imaginative and holistic but grounded in testing and modelling,” he added.

The Prime Innovator IV lecture takes place tonight at: The Royal Academy of Engineering, 3 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5DG at 6.00pm for 6.30pm

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Notes for editors

  1. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship - comprising the UK's most eminent engineers - provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain's engineering community.

For more information please contact

Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering
Tel. 020 7766 0636; email: Jane Sutton