Prince of Wales gives first speech to the ICE

The Prince of Wales has called on engineers to work more closely in harmony with nature in his first speech at the Institution of Civil Engineers.

In an event this morning, organised in association with Halcrow, the prince drew from the wording of the institution’s Royal Charter, granted in 1828, arguing that the challenges of sustainable development in the 21st Century required closer co-operation with other professions and more emphasis on time-honoured techniques which reflect the natural world.

“If there is one profession that has awoken to the need for more sustainable approaches, it is civil engineering, putting you firmly on the front line in the battle for sustainability,” he said.

“We have, by default, engineered something of a looming disaster and we need all the ingenuity we can muster to pull back from it.  And, dare I suggest it, perhaps a little humility too, in terms of the need to work more closely in harmony with nature – even to rediscover the value of traditional engineering techniques that can be applied in a modern context.”

The prince added that the Royal Charter contains the word “art” and that engineers should work with architects at the early design stage to ensure development is aesthetically pleasing to people and stood the test of time.

“I am delighted that my Foundation [for Building Communities] and Halcrow are exploring the possibility of developing a secondee scheme involving staff from Halcrow and other members of the ICE - the purpose being to encourage engineers, along with the other professions, to be there at the start of the design process and to ensure a more integrated approach that lengthens the longevity of buildings and infrastructure,” he said.

“All the professions need to integrate their skills as much as possible, an approach that has to be reflected, surely, in the way the educational establishments operate too.”