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Engineering in times of crisis: Cundall collaborates with Wroclaw UST students

UK and Europe 25 July 2023

From July 3rd to 7th, the headquarters of the Association of Polish Architects (SARP) in Wroclaw hosted the Hatay Workshop, a design innovation and collaboration experience for architecture students focused on the role of architecture during times of crisis.

Organised by the Eko-Studio - scientific circle of the faculty of Architecture at Wroclaw University of Science and Technology in cooperation with PRP and Viessmann, Cundall was engaged to provide expert insight in the areas of structural engineering, building services, and sustainable architecture (passive design). The scientific supervision of the event was provided by arch. Anna Bać, prof at WUST.

During the workshop, students had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the design challenge of creating buildings in the earthquake affected Hatay province of Turkey. The aim was to address the impact of natural disasters by transforming buildings into resilient shelters capable of providing refuge for up to a hundred people for seven days. The designs incorporated essential amenities such as access to water, power, and food, ensuring the safety and well-being of those affected by crises.

Our engineers played a pivotal role in guiding the students, offering their knowledge and expertise in key areas. Their insights and support helped the students develop their inventive architectural solutions.

Sławek Szumierz shared his expertise in structural engineering, particularly in seismically active regions. His guidance ensured that the students' designs were structurally robust and capable of withstanding the impact of earthquakes.

Przemek Paluszyński focused on the development of building services that would be essential in crisis situations. He provided insights into heating, cooling, ventilation, and access to water to ensure the comfort and well-being of occupants within the sheltered buildings.

Wojciech Stec
, Martyna Wodo and Kubra Sultan-Świerczewski helped students to explore passive design strategies aimed at reducing a building's reliance on mechanical systems for heating, cooling, and ventilation.

The workshop concluded with a grand closing ceremony where the students presented their design ideas, demonstrating their ability to address the urgent needs of communities facing crises. The experience was eye opening for our engineers who provided feedback, recognising the students' remarkable achievements in tackling the challenge of engineering in times of crisis.

“It was very inspiring to see young professionals in action,” said Przemek Paluszyński, Principal Mechanical Engineer. “I especially liked the idea of turning a swimming pool into a shelter during a crisis situation.”

Participation in such a dynamic design process was also a great experience for Martyna Wodo, Senior Engineer and Sustainability Specialist:

“Students had only five days to come up with their design ideas and it was interesting to see how their initial thoughts evolve and are enriched after discussions with tutors from different backgrounds and areas of expertise,” she said.

“I think that the workshops were even more valuable due to the involvement of Turkish tutors who explained the local context and advised not only on technical aspects but also on the culture and habits.”

“We had a real pleasure observing how, within a few days, primary ideas developed into comprehensive concepts of multi-functional buildings,” said Sławek Szumierz, Associate Structural Engineer. “And we not only observed, but we also contributed to this creative process!” he added.

This initiative is another step towards strengthening the collaboration between Cundall and the Faculty of Architecture at Wrocław UST. The organizer expressed hope for transferring these experiences into inter-disciplinary design classes.

“The entire Cundall team presented a very high level of expertise, vast experience, ease in transferring knowledge, as well as excellent social skills – all essential in working with students”

Anna Bać, scientific supervisor of the event said, “The feedback received from students also confirms very positive outcome – Cundall employees received a standing ovation what doesn’t happen very often."

Overall, the Hatay Workshop served as a remarkable platform for exploring the role of engineering during times of crisis. By bringing together collective expertise for collaboration, they also contribute to our understanding of how to shape a more resilient and sustainable built environment.