Urban regeneration is no easy task at the best of times and urban regeneration which adheres to sustainable principles, i.e. eco-friendly regeneration, is even harder. Not impossible however, thanks to a team of students from Sheffield University. Using techniques developed by Visiting Professor, Lorna Walker, whose post is supported by The Royal Academy of Engineering, they have designed an eco-friendly urban village.

The team’s imaginative and ecologically-friendly approach to the future re-development of an area of Leeds has won them first prize in a poster competition for engineering undergraduates.

The competition involved 26 universities which are currently part of The Royal Academy of Engineering’s ‘Visiting Professors in Engineering Design for Sustainable Development Scheme’, and Harris Angelakopoulos, Edward Williams, Daniel Hum and Andrew Lee staved off competition from 12 other teams of finalists.

Their proposed re-development of Holbeck, an area of Leeds which has suffered decline despite its industrial history, included office blocks which used harvested rainwater to reduce the amount of mains water used, water saving toilets and energy saving ventilation systems.

The team used a tool known as SPeAR (‘sustainability project appraisal routine’) to determine exactly how to approach the project. SPeAR takes into account the environment, natural resources and societal and economic requirements of an area and Lorna herself helped to develop it while at Arup, the company responsible for the structural design of the Sydney Opera House.

David Foxley of The Royal Academy of Engineering and organizer of the competition says,

"The Sheffield team has taken a holistic approach to regenerating a declining area. They have concentrated on a "people friendly" layout to encourage the reduction of car use, as well as developing schemes to reduce energy and water consumption. It is this multi-faceted approach to design that students will need to develop, as they acquire the (sustainability) skills they will need in their future careers."

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.
  2. The Academy’s Visiting Professors in Engineering Design for Sustainable Development scheme was launched in 1998. Sustainable Development can be defined as, ‘development that meets the needs of the present generation, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. The Academy sees that the challenge for engineers is to provide engineering solutions that will achieve such an aim. The purpose of this scheme is to develop teaching materials, based on case studies, which will enhance both the understanding and the practice of teaching Sustainable Development. Convincing case studies can only be developed by leading edge industrial practitioners working as Visiting Professors in unison with experienced teachers, making this scheme a very close partnership between industry and academia.

For more information please contact

Claire McLoughlin at the Royal Academy of Engineering