As part of the Engineering Season at the V&A, we interviewed leading engineers and architects to find out about their inspiration, design principles and how some of the most iconic buildings in the world were conceived.
Sir Jack Zunz
When Sir Jack Zunz was asked to lead the engineering design of the Sydney Opera House in 1961, it changed his life forever. Using rudimentary tools by today's standards, there were many challenges in creating the iconic roof we are all familiar with today. Backed by an incredibly talented team of fellow engineers and architects, this complex structure pushed the team to work at the 'frontiers of what was possible'.
Structural Engineer, Jane Wernick, relishes the opportunity to understand the aspirations of the architect, requirements of the client and the aura of the project. The London Eye and the Kew Treetop Walkway both provide aerial views of some of London's best-loved attractions but are also designed to look beautiful, be comfortable, bring delight and make you smile.
Having started out in 1996 in a single discipline engineering practice, Hanif Kara quickly identified gaps not being catered for within the industry. By applying linguistic, technological and aesthetic dimensions to the scientific discipline of engineering, a new practice emerged. Inspired by solving problems, Kara has worked on builds beset with challenges from the outset such as the complex archaeological site of the Bloomberg London building and the social requirements of the Peckham Library.
Jo da Silva
During her time at Arup, Jo da Silva has travelled the world designing incredible structures with some of the best architects in the world. In her spare time, Jo trained to be a post-disaster engineer and on her return from Sri Lanka after the Indian Ocean tsunami, decided to focus on helping developing countries and humanitarian situations. As Director of Arup International Development, Jo works in various countries advising on and designing sustainable infrastructures and resilience both within buildings and communities.
As an architect, Achim Menges has a fascination for technology and the possibilities of design. He experiments with robotic technologies to create adaptive and responsive built structures that emerge from studying and abstracting principles found in nature - biomimicry. His latest project, the Elytra Filament Pavilion in the V&A garden, is an evolving structure that adapts to both climatic change and the movement of people in its immediate surroundings offering a glimpse of a potential future built environment. In collaborating with engineer Jan Knippers, the pavilion is the result of an integrative way of thinking about design and engineering and 'is effective as a structure but also exciting and expressive as a piece of architecture'.