People News

Our people: Marta Bisson.


Lending expertise to a worthy cause.

Marta is a Principal Engineer in our London office, who joined us in 2016. She recently undertook a secondment to Article 25, the largest architectural charity in the world. Each year, we partner with the charity to support its work providing planning and design services for educational and healthcare buildings in some of the world’s poorest places.

I was inspired to work on projects…

…located in areas of the world where climates are very different from the typical European ones. They require a very flexible approach to engineering that considers everything from weather (monsoon seasons, very high temperatures), the remoteness of the site, or the regularity of power supply interruptions. During my time with Article 25, I worked on an inclusive school for disabled children in Tanzania and a new trauma centre for a Leprosy Mission hospital in Nepal.

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Because of the extreme climates, when it comes to building services, everything needs to be approached differently. Heating may not be needed, and mechanical cooling or ventilation may not be possible due to power cuts. This means looking at systems fed by gravity, mechanical interlocks, rainwater harvesting, solar energy, and shaping the building to enhance natural ventilation…

You have to start considering the building services as a “nice to have” and go back to the bare principles of engineering and building design.

In order to make the design sustainable, workmanship is from the local area and construction materials are also sourced locally.

My secondment to Article 25…

…took place over three months. I worked from their office in Canary Wharf one day a week, which was a great opportunity to meet new people. The team at Article 25 is made up of a few project architects along with a few young volunteer architects. It was a really friendly environment, with people from all around the world coming together to deliver a project.

My work on these unique projects taught me…

…to look at problem-solving from a different perspective, and to (try to!) keep it simple. Simple is usually less costly, easier to design, specify, install, commission, and maintain – so it’s win/win.

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It’s been a rewarding experience…

…from both a professional and personal point of view. It was a wonderful chance to test my engineering knowledge and learn more about the world and different construction technologies. It’s also really brought home the idea that we, as engineers, can contribute to making the world a better place.