UKCRIC - PLEXUS - Priming Laboratory EXperiments on infrastructure and Urban Systems

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Civil Engineering

Abstract

The UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC) is, with a (matched) capital investment of £138m from BEIS, creating world-class city observatory, modelling & simulation and physical laboratory facilities. The UKCRIC Laboratories will form the state-of-the-art, world class, national research infrastructure that UK academic researchers and infrastructure providers need if they are to deliver world leading infrastructure provision and performance. UKCRIC's overall mission is to move away from the traditional, somewhat siloed, academic and industry viewpoints, which all stakeholders now increasingly recognise is a major barrier to innovation and to the radical changes in infrastructure provision practice that are needed to tackle the huge scale of the UK and global infrastructure renewal challenge.

This proposal from UKCRIC's Laboratories Strand aims to prepare for and use UKCRIC's laboratory facilities for the ultimate purpose of developing UKCRIC's research staff capacity & capability, and create a Common Vision, Strategic Research Agenda & Implementation Action Plan for the Laboratories Strand via three expansive yet interlinked critical technical challenges.

It meets EPSRC's objectives of encouraging new collaborations; demonstrating cross institution-theme-facility working central to the UKCRIC vision; contributing to the benefits as set out in the UKCRIC Business Case; & delivering research aligning with the outcomes from UKCRIC's workshops.

Three important and urgent technical challenges will contextualise the research:
(1) intense physical interdependency of urban infrastructure systems, each of which relies on ground support;
(2) harvesting energy from buried infrastructure systems; and,
(3) accelerated deterioration of infrastructure materials due to extreme loading.

The challenges are synergistic, having been identified by industry as high added-value problems offering quick-win outcomes.

Exploration of these challenge will inform learning capture and be translated into the Vision, Research Agenda & Implementation Action Plan.

PLEXUS will enable academics and industry stakeholders to co-produce and test the essential collaborative frameworks that will underpin the success of the overall UKCRIC enterprise. This integrated view will help drive progress towards the more integrated and holistic sector mindset that must underpin transformative thinking and practice in infrastructure provision.

Planned Impact

The UKCRIC Laboratories will form the state-of-the-art, world class, national research infrastructure that UK academic researchers and infrastructure providers need if they are to deliver world-leading infrastructure provision and performance.

UKCRIC aims to move away from the traditional, somewhat siloed, academic and industry viewpoints, which all stakeholders now increasingly recognise is a major barrier to innovation and to the radical changes in infrastructure provision practice that are needed to tackle the huge scale of the UK and global infrastructure renewal challenge. UKCRIC sees itself long term as a single, unified infrastructure community, embracing academics, industry, policy makers, financiers and, crucially, citizens as the ultimate beneficiaries.

PLEXUS will enable academics and industry stakeholders to co-produce and test the essential collaborative frameworks that will underpin the success of the overall UKCRIC enterprise. This will be done through exploring exemplar high added-value infrastructure problems that industry and infrastructure stakeholders have identified. These exemplars will form the contextual setting for understanding the learning that has to be connected from fundamental blue skies research through to actual infrastructure delivery. This integrated view will help drive progress towards the more integrated and holistic sector mindset that must underpin transformative thinking and practice in infrastructure provision.

PLEXUS will develop long-term research and development route maps that will help articulate the co-produced value propositions for addressing high-value uncertainties. The route maps will identify the strands of knowledge creation and capability development that must be integrated in order to realise the value propositions. These strands will be mapped onto tentative projects that draw the requisite expertise together to achieve the desired outcomes.

The main impacts of PLEXUS can be summarised as:
- Framing and driving change in the mindset and practices of the infrastructure community with the intended outcome of delivering more innovative, cost effective, sustainable and resilient infrastructure that underpins the UK economy and the well-being of citizens.
- Generating example narratives on how UKCRIC laboratories can be developed and used to support this change through addressing exemplar, high added-value infrastructure problems.
- Mapping out a long term research and development route map that will locate and bind together the contributions of individual stakeholders and groups so that the integrated community is able to deliver far more than the sum of its parts.

Publications

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Leach J (2019) The Liveable Cities Method: establishing the case for transformative change for a UK metro in Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Engineering Sustainability

 
Description We are discovering how to come from a variety of different disciplinary backgrounds to work together effectively by moving towards 'transdisciplinarity', and we are capturing this learning. Joint activity is also being carried out in addressing 4 Research Challenges.
Exploitation Route We are drafting reports that will be turned into a paper on the movement towards transdisciplinarity.
Sectors Education,Energy,Environment,Transport

 
Description PLEXUS is trialling collaborative working relationship, studying how a multi-disciplinary research team can move towards transdisciplinary working. This is informing how the UKCRIC collaboratorium should collaborate and has yielded some success in recent grant applications.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Construction,Energy,Environment,Transport
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description Joanne Leach gave evidence on urban diagnostics to the Institution of Civil Engineers Future Cities Workshop, 25 June 2018
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
URL https://www.ice.org.uk/what-is-civil-engineering/what-do-civil-engineers-do/future-cities
 
Description Integrated Infrastructure for Sustainable Thermal Energy Provision (IN-STEP)
Amount £583,108 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/S001417/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2018 
End 06/2021
 
Description Chris Rogers. Launch of the ICE East Midlands Annual Theme of Liveable Cities on 30th January 2019 in Derby 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Chris Rogers presented the UKCRIC vision and the findings from Liveable Cities, iBUILD, UKCRIC-PLEXUS and the UKCRIC Coordination Node to the launch of the ICE East Midlands Annual Theme of Liveable Cities on 30th January 2019 in Derby. The audience of 80 delegates consisted primarily of city stakeholders and practicing engineers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Chris Rogers. A Civil Engineer's Modern Art in an Urban Landscape 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Chris Rogers presented the UKCRIC vision and the findings from Liveable Cities, iBUILD, Urban Futures, Urban Living Birmingham, CLI, UKCRIC-PLEXUS, UKCRIC-NBIF and the UKCRIC Coordination Node in a conference presentation entitled "A Civil Engineer's Modern Art in an Urban Landscape" at the Malvern Innovation Festival on 10th October. The audience of approximately 40 consisted of business people and members of the public.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Chris Rogers. Key Cities workshop on 21st February 2019 in Southampton 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Chris Rogers presented the UKCRIC vision and the findings from Liveable Cities, iBUILD, UKCRIC-PLEXUS and the UKCRIC Coordination Node to a Key Cities workshop on 21st February 2019 in Southampton. The audience of 50 delegates consisted of city stakeholders (75%) and UKCRIC academics (25%).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Chris Rogers. Launch event of the UKCRIC National Distributed Water Infrastructure Facility on 11th October 2018 in Sheffield 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Chris Rogers attended the launch of the UKCRIC National Distributed Water Infrastructure Facility on 11th October 2018 in Sheffield and manned the UKCRIC display stand. The audience of around 3000 delegates consisted primarily of stakeholders and practitioners.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Chris Rogers. Presentation at Assessing the Underworld Final Event on 19th April 2018 in London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Chris Rogers presented the findings from MTU, ATU, UKCRIC-PLEXUS, UKCRIC-NBIF and the UKCRIC vision to the Assessing the Underworld Final Event on 19th April 2018 in London
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Chris Rogers. Series of lectures to 40 Sustainable Construction MSc students at the University of Birmingham on 5th March 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Chris Rogers presented the UKCRIC vision and the findings from Liveable Cities, iBUILD, Urban Futures, Urban Living Birmingham and the UKCRIC Coordination Node in a series of lectures to 40 Sustainable Construction MSc students at the University of Birmingham on 5th March 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Chris Rogers. Sustainable, Resilient and Liveable Cities - Realising the Aspiration 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Chris Rogers presented the UKCRIC vision and the findings from Liveable Cities, iBUILD, Urban Futures, Urban Living Birmingham, UKCRIC-PLEXUS and the UKCRIC Coordination Node in a conference presentation entitled "Sustainable, Resilient and Liveable Cities - Realising the Aspiration" and three posters to the Urban Transitions Conference on 25-27th November 2018 in Barcelona. The audience of 150 delegates consisted of city stakeholders and urban practitioners (50%) and academics from a wide range of disciplines (50%).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Chris Rogers. UKCRIC All-Hands Meeting on 6th December 2018 in Birmingham 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Chris Rogers presented the UKCRIC-PLEXUS vision to a UKCRIC All-Hands Meeting on 6th December 2018 in Birmingham. The audience of around 40 delegates consisted of academics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Chris Rogers. UKCRIC Cities workshop on 15th January 2019 in Birmingham 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Chris Rogers presented the UKCRIC vision and the findings from Liveable Cities, iBUILD, UKCRIC-PLEXUS and the UKCRIC Coordination Node to a UKCRIC Cities workshop on 15th January 2019 in Birmingham. The audience of 30 delegates consisted of city stakeholders (25%) and UKCRIC academics (75%).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Chris Rogers. Workshop on Mainstreaming Green Infrastructure on 7th February 2019 at the RTPI in London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Chris Rogers presented the UKCRIC vision and the findings from Liveable Cities, iBUILD, Urban Living Birmingham and the UKCRIC Coordination Node to a workshop on Mainstreaming Green Infrastructure on 7th February 2019 at the RTPI in London. The audience of 20 delegates consisted primarily of practicing urban professionals representing different learned societies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Engineering masterclass 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The Engineering Masterclasses provide Year 12 students with an opportunity to explore topics of interest beyond what is covered within the A Level syllabus and offer the chance to experience typical undergraduate teaching at Cambridge. I delivered a lecture on 'Protecting Venice' engaging the students on concepts from the soil mechanics curriculum applied to practical and relevant problems.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
Description RC1. Co-production workshop on integral bridges on 19 Mar 2018, Bristol. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Soil-Structure Interaction RC. Co-production workshop on integral bridges, with industry representatives on 19 Mar 2018 in Bristol. The main purpose of the workshop is to scope out a tentative programme of work to be done in the PLEXUS project as a pilot for a longer term programme that we hope to attract funding for.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018