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Jennifer Hardi

We would like to introduce Jennifer Hardi, Course Director of Architectural Engineering and Architectural Technology in the School of Built Environment and Architecture. Jennifer would be delivering a presentation on the use of alternative materials in construction – in this case, bamboo – and would be sharing details of a project she worked on with her students.

Hi, Jennifer, thank you for agreeing to take part in this interview. To begin, can you let us know what you do and why you are involved in the event series?

I joined LSBU in September 2013 as a Senior Lecturer and Course Director of the BSc (Hons) Architectural Technology and Architectural Engineering courses. Prior to joining LSBU, I worked as a Senior Sustainability Consultant at the Building Research Establishment (BRE), a leading research and accreditation company. The areas of Sustainability, Building Information Modelling and Pedagogy have been my passion and I am always keen on imparting my professional knowledge and experience relating to my areas of interest to the students as they are the future of the industry. Recently, I led a hands-on and multi-disciplinary bamboo pavilion workshop at LSBU where students and colleagues joined forces to build the pavilion from scratch in three days. This workshop was in collaboration with Dr Andry Widyowijatnoko and colleagues from the Institute of Technology Bandung (ITB), a leading university in Indonesia. My session would cover how the tensegrity pavilion was made and the potential of bamboo as a sustainable material.

There is a great deal of work and research taking place at LSBU around using alternative resources in engineering and construction. What are some of the biggest lessons we have learned?

There are a lot of sustainable innovative materials out there and it is important that we explore their viability for the UK climate from the social, economic and also environmental points of view. These three aspects must be well balanced in order for us to be able to come up with the most sustainable alternative solutions within engineering and construction.

Regarding your students and the project, how do you think working on a project like this will impact their future career choices and roles?

The bamboo pavilion project has given my students and also other students at LSBU a hands-on experience in a multi-disciplinary context. This is a crucial employability skill for them as they will be required to work with other professionals when they get into the construction industry. The experience also gave them a chance to engage with international leading experts from ITB and exchange knowledge with them.

Please tell us about how you came to work in your field and what attracted you to it?

Architecture and engineering have always been of interest to me since my childhood. I remember building things from Lego and listening to my Dad (who was a Senior Specialist Procurement Consultant for The World Bank, who has now retired), sharing his experience as a structural and civil engineer. This interest, coupled with my passion to make a difference, brought me into the sustainability and architectural engineering/technology area. From my professional experience in industry, I feel that it is a good opportunity to impart my knowledge to students who are the future of the industry and that is how I came to join the academic field.

How to you feel your industry is making an impact on the issues around sustainability and climate action?

I think we can do more! Currently, there is a huge effort regarding this but there are some current serious challenges we need to tackle especially in terms of the economic downturn and the impact of COVID-19 on investment, research and innovation. We should take advantage of the current downturn in the industry to create more jobs that focus on sustainability. The fact that people are now turning to more sustainable ways of transport such as cycling and walking, shows that there is an appetite among the public for a more environmental focused policies and practices in the construction industry. The public backing is there, and we should take advantage of it.

What message would you give to young people who are concerned about the future of the planet, and how can they make a difference?

You are the future. Stand up for what you believe in. There will be a lot of obstacles that say you cannot do it, and aiming to prevent you from achieving what you believe in! Prove to them that they are wrong! Together, we can build more sustainable cities, a more sustainable world.

Jennifer’s session was on the conference day devoted to ‘Resources’, on 25th June 2020.

For more information on this event, visit the event page.