THE PRESENT AND FUTURE OF CIVIL WORKS: TO BUILD OR NOT TO BUILD
Infrastructures are just as much subject to change as the society that uses them. It has been this way since human beings came into existence. Cities were built along the coasts or near rivers because it was practical, and through the centuries, their infrastructures have been modified for the needs of tourism and leisure.
Times change, and so do cities.
Civil works is responsible for adapting cities to these changes. Traditionally, it is the branch of engineering responsible for the construction of bridges, highways, parks, buildings, train tracks, ports, etc. In other words, it designs and modifies the environment to benefit the management of a territory and to improve quality of life for the community that lives there.
If we take a look at the evolution over the last few years in the Spanish sector, we find a period of high emigration of engineers abroad in search of construction projects, but this tendency is now coming to a stop. The reasons for this don‘t have so much to do with whether or not there are enough construction projects (the main activities related to civil works that we mentioned before), but with versatility and new alternatives that the profession is acquiring and that there are new options for the future for engineers. A great example is Bernardo Gómez Delgado, director of the Madrid headquarters of AYMA Mining Solutions, who has lead important civil works projects and currently does both that and consulting, which is non-traditional.
It may be that Spain is not yet considering the construction of a bridge like the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao, the world‘s longest bridge that connects Hong Kong to Continental China; however, we are not Chinese and flights to the Canary Islands are still working just fine. In an age where changes in population and transportation and housing are occurring faster than ever, civil works must fulfill its role. The ability to take on any challenge, not just those directly related to engineering, but also a high capacity for project management will be reinforced in the education of new generations in technical colleges and universities.
In closing, we‘ll mention another example of reinvention in the sector. The article, I am an architect and I don‘t build: Welcome to the future of urban planning (Arquia Foundation), explains the need for a form of social civil works that improves the usability of large cities with respect to the needs of citizens, without spectacular architecture. It talks about a future where consultants act as “social agents” who are responsible for improving the quality of life for cities and their citizens, making sure everyone benefits from strategies, and also creating social and economic opportunities. Urban planning of the future is about new professionals who don‘t necessarily need to build”.