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Civil and Construction

This interdisciplinary group is comprised of researchers from a range of disciplines including civil engineering, project management, construction, building information modelling, and bio-engineering. Areas of research include:  

Advanced Structures and Materials 

Northumbria is a major partner in a new research Hub for Biotechnology for the Built Environment (HBBE). HBBE is developing biotechnologies to create a new generation of 'Living Buildings'. The aim of these is buildings that are responsive to their natural environment, for example that can process their own waste, generate energy and be made of living materials which are intelligently synthesised and/or activated using microbial processes. This group’s research into microbe based self-healing concrete where bacteria is used to repair and heal cracks is underpinning a European test standard.   

Civil and Geotechnical Engineering Challenges 

Research into visualisation approaches has resulted in new, live streamed sensor networks, processed through artificial intelligence. This work has been done in collaboration with organisations such as Transport Scotland, local councils and Northumbria water.  

Digital Environment Informatics  

Research by this group into the digital environment has redefined digital transformation policies in national construction sectors. The work has been central to major, high profile developments such as the Sydney Opera House. The group developed a new building informatics toolkit ‘xBIM’ which has seen industry-wide uptake. Testament to these successes has been the formation of a multi-award-winning spin out company BIM Academy Ltd which provides product data in standardised digital formats that are used to model buildings in a virtual environment, so that all stakeholders can see the asset and assess its workings prior to it being built.   

Key projects 

Computational Colloids: Engineered bacteria as computational agents in the design and manufacture of new materials and structures 

This project investigated how civil engineering may be integrated with the emerging field of synthetic biology. A proof of concept was proposed which demonstrated how a manufacturing process could be designed where the material itself acts as the manufacture and designer – modelling and responding to its environment. Combining these fields has transformative implications, for example, processes in civil engineering using living organisms.  

Landslide Mitigation Informatics (LIMIT): Effective decision-making for complex landslide geohazards

This feasibility study generated new field validated intelligent monitoring informatics, underpinned by advanced theories of failure mechanics, to provide crucial prediction data on the likelihood and then occurrence of landslides in real-time 

An augmented intelligence-enabled stimulating framework for deep energy renovation delivering occupant-centered innovations  

This project is investigating effective, affordable tools to boost building renovations.  

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