Our primary focus in designing cities must be to learn from the past, both to inform the present and to inspire the future, according to Atkins CEO Prof Dr Uwe Krueger in his Hinton Lecture to the Academy on 29 October.

Prof Dr Krueger spelt out the global challenges facing engineers in designing future-proof cities together with the need for similar innovation in dealing with threats driven by issues such as climate change and population growth. This ranges from the micro scale focusing on the materials we use through to the macro scale and evaluating how cities cope with increasing urbanisation.

He also discussed the need for teams with the broadest array of skills to answer the complex infrastructure questions being asked; and the importance of nurturing a culture focused on exceeding design codes. He also looked at the continual requirement to balance visionary engineering and science with safety and economics.

Prof Dr Krueger said: “Our industry is starting with some pretty grand challenges. We need to find grand solutions. We need to build coalitions around what we’re doing. That requires great communication, a skill we must embrace if we’re to exert our influence – especially with elected representatives. Otherwise there is the danger that political decisions will be short-sighted, opportunistic and suboptimal.

“We need to focus on urbanisation, which makes us address the allied challenges – energy needs, water infrastructure, transport, food, health and wealth-creation.

“Above all we need to be imaginative with our cities. Let us be like Leonardo da Vinci, Sir William Atkins and particularly Sir Christopher Wren. Wren’s memorial in St Paul’s Cathedral reads ‘If you seek his memorial, look about you’.

“I hope that in fifty, one hundred, five hundred years’ time, our memorial can be found all around the world.”

Video footage of the Hinton Lecture 2013 is available on  raeng.tv

Notes for editors

Royal Academy of Engineering

As the UK’s national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering.

We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook.

We have four strategic challenges: Drive faster and more balanced economic growth; Foster better education and skills; Lead the profession; Promote engineering at the heart of society.

For more information please contact

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