City Conversations - Positive Emergent Disruption

Actions and Detail Panel


Event Information

Share this event

Date and time



Online event

Event description
Can we engineer disruption to tackle the problems of our age?

About this event

The world has just lived through the most disruptive period in living memory. The direct impact of the COVID19 epidemic has shifted the way we live – irreversibly in some instances - as well as bringing into focus areas of social activism such as #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo. Politicians are now accepting that the impacts of climate change may be equally, if not more, disruptive, on a global scale.

But disruption is not always imposed by outside forces and not wholly negative as it can give us the opportunity to find positive change and create new sustainable markets. The crumbling of our incumbent systems and attitudes can pave the way for us to re-build in a more effective, sustainable and equitable way. Sometimes we need to seek out disruption to ensure that we can ‘build back better’. We know, for example, things will need to change with regard to equity and climate change.

Often disruption is thought of as technology driven, but as we have seen it can equally be from policy and legislation, workplace and behavior choices. Disruption is often seen as a means of protest but it can also result in democratic consensus on the quickest way to achieve the best result. We have seen with policies such as the Congestion Charge, cities can have great impact with disruptive policies. It is often in less developed societies where we are more likely to see new ways ‘leapfrog’ the status quo because they have less in vested in the current way of doing things. Developed economies could share much with them in this area.

Finally, is it possible to ‘un-disrupt’ and develop products or approaches from two generations ago? The development of plastics was disruptive, reducing food spoilage and reducing the cost of packaging; leaving paper and glass behind. However we are now left with the consequences. How easy is it to turn the clock back and develop the ‘un-disrupted’ state? Revert to card, paper, glass packaging but in a more effective way? Can we construct differently?

We have invited a panel of guests to come up with their examples of the policies, technologies and methodologies that will disrupt our lives for the better. Although our focus is cities and infrastructure, we will be exploring this broadly in topics such as Health and Wellbeing, Food Production and Diet, Climate Change, Materials and Waste reduction.

Invited panelists

Natasha Watson, Buro Happold Engineering/ Happold Foundation (chairing)

Charlie Paton, Managing Director, Seawater Greenhouse

Wolfgang Buttress, Artist, exploring our relationship with the natural world.

Dev Amratia - Co-Founder and CEO of nPlan, AI and Construction.

Ele George, Innovation Consultant

Others to be announced ...

Share with friends

Date and time


Online event

Organiser The Happold Foundation

Organiser of City Conversations - Positive Emergent Disruption

City Conversations is a series of informative thought-leadership open discussions around the big issues that are changing our cities - growth, technology, resource efficiency and climate change. The Conversations will address not only the new and changing infrastructure of cities but also the how these are brought about and their impact on the lifestyle and wellbeing of citizens.
The Conversations are produced by The Happold Foundation with ngenuity Ltd and supported by The Built Environment Trust.

Save This Event

Event Saved