Imperial Inaugural Lecture: It’s All in the Cracks


Professor Robert Vollum

Professor Robert Vollum gives his inaugural lecture titled 'It's All in the Cracks'.

Professor Robert Vollum gave his inaugural lecture on 22 March 2023, which is now available to view here.

Concrete structures are all around us and fundamental to the structural engineer’s role in developing a more sustainable future for our built environment. Driven by the need to recycle, rather than rebuild, assessment will increasingly become the bread and butter of structural engineers. Here they will have to face the challenge of assessing the influence of cracks in older structure on performance.

In his inaugural lecture, Professor Robert Vollum will discuss the relationship between design standards and fundamental research. With a running theme of cracking, he will highlight the importance of experimental research in understanding the behaviour of reinforced concrete structures and the development of design models. He will show that understanding the load transfer mechanisms through cracked concrete is fundamental to the understanding the behaviour of members loaded in shear before setting some challenges for the future.

Professor Robert Vollum joined Imperial College as a Lecturer in 1991 after 9 years working in industry. His research interests are broad encompassing the long-term deflection of reinforced concrete slabs, restraint induced cracking, shear in beams, punching shear, strut and tie modelling and the design of connections between members. Recent work has focused on punching shear in flat slabs as well as shear enhancement near supports of beams. Currently, he is co-leading an EPSRC project (EP/T004142/1) into the cracking behaviour of reinforced concrete elements subjected to the restraint of imposed strains. This is a joint project with the University of Leeds (EP/T004185/1).

Professor Robert Vollum is a longstanding member of numerous professional committees including fib Commission 2 and BSI Committee 525/2-Structural Use of Concrete. He is a member of the subgroup of 525/2 responsible for developing and maintaining the UK National Annex to EC2 which is the European design standard for concrete structures. Over the last decade he has been the UK technical expert on the task group that developed the design provisions for shear, punching and torsion in the next generation of EC2 which is awaiting Formal Vote. He sits on the editorial boards of the Magazine of Concrete Research and Structural Concrete the journal of fib.


Jonathan Turner

Jonathan Turner
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering


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