UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering


Advancing our understanding of how climate and natural hazards impact on the built environment

Our research focuses on the interaction between the built environment, climatic conditions and natural hazards.

1 September 2017

We develop modelling tools based on evidence from field work and laboratory work. We have invested in a new multimillion laboratory - the Cyclic Environmental and Mechanical Multi-Scale Test Lab - situated at Here East, UCL’s new East London site.

At Here East, we have created a unique integration of strong floor and reaction frame facilities with large scale environmental chambers, where real-size models replicating elements of the built environment can be tested for extreme environmental and structural scenarios, simulating earthquakes, windstorms and flooding.

This allows us to calibrate and validate our advanced modelling of historic masonry structures response (STORMLAMP), the mechanical response of ancient tapestry to indoor environmental conditions, and the response of historic composite timber and masonry structures to flood and wind-driven rain (PARNASSUS). We also work on the development of dissipative devices to improve the seismic resilience of historic buildings.

Our fieldwork activities aim to improve the base knowledge of the built environment on which the vulnerability and resilience of specific structures and infrastructure to single or multi-hazards is simulated. We are investigating the potential of digital tools such as drones and omnidirectional cameras to improve fundamental understanding of how buildings are built and how they are damaged by earthquakes or other hazards.

We are using this information in two ways: to record observed damage in a spatial temporal frame and enhance our interpretation of the structural response, and to produce better and more realistic structural models of real buildings and other infrastructures. This knowledge underpins the application of our vulnerability and resilience procedures to historic buildings, schools, hospitals, residential construction and road infrastructure, looking at structural damage, functionality loss, recovery and the whole life cycle. Our field work has taken us to many parts of the globe, from Guatemala to Nepal, from the Philippines to Italy.