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Engineering the Future of Civilisation

Today’s unprecedented pace of change is provoking widespread fear and scepticism about the ways engineering advance is affecting our lives. Is improved health care creating an ageing population which cannot be cared for? Will autonomous drones with facial recognition software and lethal weapons soon be used to terrorise or coerce us? Are artificial intelligence and robotics poised to cause massive unemployment, or even wrest control from human leaders? And has our growing demand for energy driven the Earth’s climate to the edge of catastrophe?

In contrast to the hysteria and doom which characterise these topics, Lord Browne will show why it is imperative that society encourages, rather than hinder, technological progress. Engineering is and always has been the lifeblood of civilisation. From the flint hand axe to the quantum computer, it has transformed what it is to be human. Across the ages, engineering has made the world less violent; a place with much less poverty, disease and starvation; where a growing majority of people can read and write and more people than ever have the freedom to build the life they want to live.

Drawing on history, his own experiences and conversations with many of today’s great innovators, he will acknowledge the unintended consequences of progress, but show that it is our also our primary source of solutions. We have the engineered solutions we need to forestall the worst effects of climate change, for example. And biomedical engineering can provide the means to care for the world’s growing populations with sensitivity and compassion. Applied responsibly and inclusively, engineering can deliver a brighter future.

Lord Browne was born in 1948. He holds degrees in Natural Sciences from Cambridge and an MS in Business from Stanford.

He joined BP in 1966 as a university apprentice, between 1969 and 1983 had a variety of exploration and production posts in North America and the UK, and in 1984 became Group Treasurer and Chief Executive of BP Finance International. He held senior roles during the BP/Standard and BP/Amoco mergers in 1987 and 1998 and was appointed Group Chief Executive in 1995. He left in 2007.

He is Executive Chairman of L1 Energy and Chairman of Huawei UK, Stanhope Capital, and the Accenture Global Energy Board. He is a director of Pattern Energy and a member of the advisory boards of Edelman, Schillings and the big data technology companies Afiniti, Kayrros, and Windward.

Lord Browne was voted Most Admired CEO by Management Today every year between 1999 and 2002, was knighted in 1998 and made a life peer in 2001.
He was Chairman of the Trustees of the Tate Galleries from 2009 to 2017. He is currently Chairman of the board of the Donmar Warehouse and Chairman of the Courtauld Institute of Art. He is a member or Chairman of the boards of a number of other organisations, including the Blavatnik School of Government in Oxford.

He is Chairman of the Francis Crick Institute, and is a Fellow and past President of the Royal Academy of Engineering. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, and an Honorary Fellow of a number of institutions.

He was the UK Government’s Lead Non-Executive Board Member from 2010 to 2015, and chaired the committee that authored the Browne Report, an independent review of higher education published in 2010.

In 1999, The Royal Academy of Engineering awarded him the Prince Philip Medal for his outstanding contribution to engineering. He has also been awarded Honorary Doctorates from a number of leading universities, is an Honorary Fellow of John’s, Cambridge, and is a Senior Member of St Antony’s College, Oxford.

His interests are 16th- to 18th-century illustrated Italian books; pre-Colombian art; contemporary art; music; opera and the theatre; and Venice.

Lord Browne is the author of four books, Beyond Business, Seven Elements that Changed the World, The Glass Closet: Why Coming Out is Good Business and the Sunday Times bestseller Connect: How Companies Succeed by Engaging Radically with Society. His fifth book – Make, Think, Imagine: Engineering and the Future of Civilisation – will be published in May 2019.

This magnificent building in Belgravia is host to interesting talks on a diverse range of subjects, They are very generous with the reception after the talk. Meet the speaker after the talk and have them answer all your questions.

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Society of Chemical Industry

The Future of Art and Architecture

A major new show by global architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) in collaboration with Princeton University, TUDelft and Global Robots, takes over the 1300 m2 Ambika P3, presenting an action-packed live robotic construction and other innovations that transform the way we build now and in the future.

Clues to help solve future challenges in design and construction from embodied carbon to structures inspired by nature can be found by examining SOM’s history of innovation in engineering, research, sustainability and the ground-breaking ideas that have shaped some of the world’s most significant structures and works of art. This quest is at the heart of this major new exhibition that will take a sweeping journey across the multidisciplinary design process at SOM. 

Through hand-drawn sketches, sculptures, research models, innovative digital fabrication methods, immersive videos, and a line–up of more than 30 structural building models of SOM’s most unique buildings, including:

  • Broadgate Exchange House and The Stratford in London
  • Karlatornet in Gothenburg
  • Willis Tower (formerly Sears) in Chicago
  • Burj Khalifa in Dubai

The exhibition seeks to establish a dialogue between past and present, ideas that lead to new architecture, and an unexpected approach to realising artworks. 

Organised according to five themes – Research + Future, Efficiency + Economy, Hierarchy + Order, Scale + Form, and Creation + Collaboration – visitors will tower over models of SOM’s tallest skyscrapers, and explore the intersection of art, architecture, structural design, with a dive into SOM’s recent collaborations with artists, including Janet Echelman, James Carpenter, Jaume Plensa, and Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle. 

At the heart of the show is a soaring vault built of glass bricks, assembled live onsite by robots through the course of the exhibition. A joint effort between SOM and Princeton University, USA, in consultation with the TU Delft Glass & Transparency Research Group in the Netherlands, the demonstration marries architecture and digital fabrication to explore the next frontier in building construction. 

Challenging conventional materials and construction methods, the exhibition explores a more sustainable future—with applicability today—driven by smarter materials, new efficient structures, and clever uses of automation.

About Skidmore, Owings & Merrill 

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) is an influential collective of architects, designers, engineers and planners, responsible for some of the world’s most technically and environmentally advanced buildings, and significant public spaces. From a strategic regional plan to a single piece of furniture, SOM's designs anticipate change in the way we live, work and communicate, and have brought lasting value to communities around the world. The firm's approach is highly collaborative, and its interdisciplinary team is engaged on a wide range of international projects, with creative studios based across the globe.

Ambika P3

Artist Talk By Iwasaki Takahiro

Iwasaki Takahiro is one of Japan’s most respected contemporary artists. Using everyday materials, Iwasaki is known for creating series of works that convey a fine sense of handiwork and technique of figurative representation. Exploring the relationship among art, space and nature, his iconic series, Out of Disorder (2006) is a sculptural installation of beautiful architectural miniatures made out of readily available materials such as towels, toothbrushes and rolls of duct tape. This series cemented his standing in the international contemporary art scene. His extraordinary skill of transforming ordinary materials into mesmerizing works is admirable and always challenges the perception of viewers.

His works have been taken up by many international exhibitions including Yokohama Triennale (2011) and the 2013 Asian Art Biennale in Taiwan. More recently he was also the representative artist for the Japan Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale.

Celebrating the Japan Foundation’s exhibition, The Superlative Artistry of Japan at the Salford Museum and Art Gallery (until 19 April 2020) where Iwasaki’s work is exhibited, Iwasaki will explain his work to date and the creation process of his sometimes painstakingly elaborate works, discussing the meaning of tangibility in contemporary art as well as why the labour intensive creative process is still important to him.

Royal Society of Arts (RSA)

Spring Bat Walk

Booking essential, please email ecology.centre@rbkc.gov.uk to book

An expert from the London Bat Group will lead a walk around the Park looking for bats. Learn more about their life cycle and how we can help their conservation. Bat detectors will be available to help you hear and identify the bats. Please bring a torch with you.

Booking essential, please email ecology.centre@rbkc.gov.uk to book

Cost: FREE Donations to the London Bat Group are encouraged

Sponsored by the Friends of Holland Park

Holland Park Ecology Centre

The Ethics of Surgical Innovation

Scientific knowledge is advancing at dizzying speed and each day brings new breakthroughs in medical understanding. Unprecedented advances are opening possibilities that only a decade ago would have seemed like science fiction. Yet a deep anxiety pervades our society, raising questions about the wisdom and motives of experts and the implications of new technology. 

  • No reservations are required for this lecture. 
  • It will be run on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.
  • Doors will open at 5.30.

This lecture uses examples from cutting-edge science and medicine to explore the ethical questions which advances in robotics, personalised medicine, transplantation and artificial intelligence pose for doctors, patients and society.

Roger Kneebone is Visiting Professor of Medical Education at Gresham College and Professor of Surgical Education and Engagement Science at Imperial College London. His clinical career has ranged from trauma surgery in Southern Africa to general practice in Wiltshire and he has a longstanding fascination with education and simulation.

His academic interests cross disciplinary boundaries and he is Director of the Imperial College Centre for Engagement and Simulation Science (ICCESS) and the Royal College of Music - Imperial College Centre for Performance Science. 

In recognition of his innovative work combining medicine, music and the arts, Roger has been awarded Honorary Membership of the Royal College of Music, received the City & Guilds of London Art School’s first Honorary Fellowship, and been elected a full member of the Art Workers Guild. In 2012 he was awarded a Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellowship.

Museum of London

Making New Plants: A History

This lecture examines the work of Hugo de Vries, a Dutch botanist who was one of the first to claim that science would allow plants and animals to be designed to order. 

No reservations are required for this lecture. It will be run on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. 
Doors will open at 5.30 and the lecture will start at 6.00.

It also looks at the early twentieth-century ‘Station for Experimental Evolution’ in New York, and at the utopian vision of Charlotte Gilman Perkins’ Herland (1915), a novel describing a lost world populated by women that took the form of a perfect garden, whose wonderful plants and lack of men were both explained by de Vries’ theory of mutation.

Jim Endersby

Jim is Professor of the History of Science at the University of Sussex. He specialises in Victorian natural history and the modern genetics and has presented programmes for BBC Radio 4.

Barnard's Inn Hall