Fire researchers win Collaborate to Innovate award with Arup


Dr Egle Rackauskaite (second from left) receiving the award

Dr Egle Rackauskaite (second from left) receiving the award

Professor Guillermo Rein and Dr Egle Rackauskaite from Imperial Hazelab won the Collaborate to Innovate award from The Engineer magazine.

Professor Rein and Dr Rackauskaite won the trophy in The Built Environment category jointly with Dr Panagiotis Kotsovinos and Dr Barbara Lane from Arup UK. The award-winning project, “Structural design of modern open-plan buildings using the travelling fire methodology”, was used in the making of the 38-storey Scalpel building on 52 Lime Street in London.

The project’s research component is based on a modelling method that Professor Rein and his students have developed over the years to understand the effects of travelling fires in open plan environments:

“Our current understanding of fires and their effects on buildings are based on models that predict that they burn uniformly across a room, and this is true for small spaces such as cell-like offices. Recent studies of real fire outbreaks have shown, however, that fires don’t burn uniformly in large spaces such as modern offices, which are typically built as open-plan environments. In these situations a fire can travel from place-to-place in the room wherever there is combustible material available”, explained Professor Rein.

Predicting the effects of travelling fires in open-plan spaces could make buildings withstand fires for longer, which is very important for evacuation.

The awards organised by The Engineer aim to highlight the most innovative collaborative achievements in modern engineering, and the Built Environment category focuses on collaborative innovations playing a key role in reshaping UK infrastructure.

The winners were announced in a special awards ceremony in London on 5 September. The awards will culminate on 7 December with a conference showcasing the winners and exploring key themes around collaboration and innovation.


Nadia Barbu

Nadia Barbu
Department of Mechanical Engineering