We are delighted that people working across the built environment have started sending us their videos, chronicling their experiences of the pandemic.

To encourage you to add your voice, we have posted the first eight stories that we received.  Do take a look, and be inspired to send us your thoughts.  We will be adding more stories over the coming weeks.

To take part follow this link for the brief.  It’s very simple to take part and takes only a few minutes.

Thank you in advance – this could be a really useful piece of collective work.

Chronicling the pandemic

Thanks to COVID19, the past few months have been truly extraordinary and we believe they deserve to be chronicled.  So, we have instigated a major research project to collect people’s experiences.

We are inviting anyone and everyone who is working to create the built environment…

to send us a short video of themselves, filmed on their phones, talking about the impact that the pandemic has had on their lives and the long-term changes that they envisage as a result, both personally and professionally.

The videos will be used in two ways…

  1. To create a formal, research report that explores how the pandemic has affected built environment professionals and how it might therefore affect the ways we design and build in the future.
  2. To share experiences through the Equilibrium Network’s website and social media platforms

PLEASE NOTE: If you would rather not share your video in a public arena, you just need to tell us and we will NOT PUBLISH it.  But please do not be put off… we would still encourage you to send us your thoughts (either in a video as suggested, or in writing) and thereby to contribute to the research project.

In your video please consider three topics…

say, up to a minute on each – no more than three minutes in total:


  • Your name, the job do you do and your level of seniority.


  • Where do you live? (on your own, with others, cramped or spacious, with or without access to outside space…)
  • What additional responsibilities have you assumed since COVID19? (visiting/caring for relatives or neighbours, home-schooling, things that you used to pay others to do…)
  • What have you enjoyed most about this time and what has worried you most? 


  • Have you been furloughed, or made redundant, has your income fallen?
  • Has your attitude to work changed? (do you feel more or less creative, interested and focused, able to concentrate, time pressured…)
  • How have your working relationships and your ability to influence projects been affected?


  • As a result of COVID19, how do you think the way people work could or should change? (in particular think about people who are working to create the built environment)
  • How do you think the built environment will change as a result of COVID19?
  • What do you think we should try to retain from this time?

We very much hope you will take part in this exercise – and look forward to receiving your video.  We will keep the project live for a few weeks so you have time to think about your response – but don’t leave it too long – we will be working with the results from mid-July.

Please send your video to if they are larger than 5MB, please use WeTransfer, or similar.

PLEASE NOTE: unless you tell us otherwise, we will assume that you are happy for us to share your video on a public channel (YouTube or Vimeo for example) and to show it on our website and on other social media platforms.

Thank you in advance – this could be a really useful piece of collective work.



Alerting all our members!

You are invited to our autumn event on 28 November which is being held at Arup in Central London from 18.30.

This event will focus on how successfully our members have managed to deliver our aims.  Members are asked to come prepared to share their stories, loosely based on the Equilibrium Charter,  so we can start to define and share the triggers for success. The format will be a round table discussion where everyone will have a chance to listen and contribute, with a summary for all to share.

There will also be an opportunity to network with others members of the group.

To secure your place, please email  Places will be awarded on a first come first served basis.




20 June 2018

18.00 to 20.00


£13.50 through Eventbrite

This event is free to Members and Friends of the Equilibrium Network


This event will explore identity and the challenges women (and men) face especially in leadership positions within the built environment.  It will consider the benefits to businesses, to leadership teams and to individuals when they succeed.

We are privileged to have Professor Sucheta Nadkarni of the Judge Institute as our keynote speaker; our other panelists are Gerry Hughes, CEO of GVAand Andrea Callender, Director for EDI at Arup.

There will be lots of opportunity for audience participation and a chance to network over a glass of wine.

This event is being sponsored and hosted by Arup and is part of the London Festival of Architecture

New Research


In the summer of 2017 we asked Alice Moncaster and Martha Dillon of the Open University to undertake a desk top research exercise into gender diversity and company performance, focused on built environment professions.

The Executive Summary is available here:

Women Boards and the UK Built Environment Executive Summary

If you would like a copy of the full report please complete the registration form where, in the final section, you will be able to tick a box asking for a copy.

We are grateful to Allies + Morrison, Arup, Grimshaw, Sound Space Vision and Thornton Tomasetti for funding this piece of research, and to The Open University for its support.

Research Opportunity

Equilibrium Network is looking for a bright researcher to undertake a paid desktop study into gender issues across the built environment…

The study is expected to take between 4 to 8 weeks, working either full time or part-time.

Applicants must have previous research experience at masters or PhD level. Pay will be appropriate to experience in research on the University pay scales.

The successful candidate will be employed on a temporary contract through the Open University, and can work from home or from the campus in Milton Keynes.

The research will be supervised and supported by Dr Alice Moncaster on behalf of Equilibrium.

Please get in touch with Alice if you are interested: Dr Alice or

Unconscious bias from the other side

Alice MoncasterThis is a story about a multi-national project I have been a part of for the last five years, developing policy and industry guidance on how to reduce embodied carbon from buildings. The project has taught me three important lessons, only one of them about carbon.

The multi-national project is Annex 57 of the Energy in Buildings and Communities (EBC) programme of the International Energy Agency (IEA); subtask 4 of the Annex happens to be all women. This happened slightly by chance and slightly, I suspect, by subconscious design, and I’ll explain how.
At the start of the project the participants to Annex 57 could choose which sub-task they wanted to work on. Harpa (an Icelandic working in Denmark), Tove (from Sweden), Aoife (Irish but working in Norway) and me (from and working in the UK) decided to work on subtask 4. Perhaps this task didn’t look very high-powered or glamorous to our colleagues, who split up into other subtask groups or none at all. Perhaps we grouped together as a subliminal appreciation of the rare opportunity to work with others of our own sex, and indeed age. I don’t know.

Once this group had formed, other women who joined the Annex wanted to join us, and of course we allowed them. Additional researchers joined in from our own institutions who also happened to be female, including importantly and lastingly, Freja from Denmark. This was all fine with our male colleagues on Annex 57, who called us ‘the ladies’, and seemed to find us slightly amusing, hard-working and perhaps a little, well, dull.

However my story of inadvertent bias becomes a bit more thorny as it goes along. At the project meeting halfway through the project there was a subtle change. At this point the presentations from the subtasks to the whole group started to focus necessarily not just on brilliant ideas, but on what they had actually achieved. Subtask group 4 had requested some time for a break-out session in order to use more of our precious time to work together. To our surprise at this session we were suddenly approached by a number of (male) colleagues wanting to join us. One in particular (well-meaning, and who shall therefore remain anonymous) also really felt the urge to tell us what we should be doing differently and, in his view, rather better. Politely but firmly (some of us firmer than others) we told him that our work was too far progressed for his advice to be useful, and that he was not welcome to join our group at this late stage.

Now we have arrived almost at the end, and we are producing our final report. It has been a difficult but supportive process. All of us are too busy to really fit it in with our every day work, but we have stuck with it through a sense of shared responsibility, and have made huge efforts to attend meetings in each of our countries as well as by Skype either around school pick-up times (all of us happen to have children, with two subtask 4 babies born during the project) or from home (children, dogs and partners in the background). What we have succeeded in producing is a ground-breaking piece of academic research providing a unique and truly global snapshot of embodied carbon methods and mitigation strategies. Personally we have moved from mutual respect to firm friendship. Our remaining unresolved conundrum is which order to list the report authors: unlike the other subtask groups, each led by a single (male) academic, ours has four leaders, Harpa, Tove, Aoife and me.

I have learnt a great deal about reducing embodied carbon from buildings, but perhaps more importantly I have learnt how a collective, collaborative working style can produce amazing results against all odds. The third lesson, though, is a little more thought-provoking; this is, how unconscious bias can work in all of us.

I must stress that we didn’t set out to be an all female group. We didn’t consciously look for female researchers to join us. And we didn’t deliberately discriminate against our male colleague when he tried to join. I’m not really apologising. I’m just noticing the potential insidious mechanisms of subconscious bias, for once on the other side of them. I suspect most of the reasons why we still have all-male boards, and a mostly male industry, are for very similar, and similarly unintentional, reasons.

So the reflection for my industry and academic colleagues is this; it might be more comfortable to work with people like you. It might be easier to see their strengths, if they are the same as yours. You might find that teamwork goes well, with everyone getting along easily together, both in work and socially. But in staying safe, staying homogeneous, you may be missing the chance to benefit from someone who is, and thinks, differently, and in doing so you are missing the chance to do the very best you can. This is why organisations with diversity at a senior level have been unequivocally shown to do better. A little voice inside me tells me that some, not all, of our male colleague’s comments were right, and we could perhaps have done things even better if we had allowed ourselves to listen to a different voice.

Alice Moncaster

Greater diversity at board level = profitability?

RIBA Journal Q & A session with Caroline Cole:

So are you looking to stage a boardroom coup?

Not exactly! The Equilibrium Network is cross disciplinary; architects, engineers, landscape architects, contractors, academics and clients. With everyone moaning about the lack of female representation at senior level, we asked ‘does it actually matter?’ We assembled some female big industry achievers to tell their stories and decided ‘yes it does’.

So you came to the obvious conclusion?

Actually, we concluded it wasn’t just about gender but diversity at executive level and not just about helping women but helping business to do better. At junior level it’s a 50/50 gender mix in architecture but at senior level it’s 11% – and worse in engineering. We want to find ways to help organisations be more diverse, by not being hellraising and confrontational but business-like.

How do you nudge people in the right direction?

We need to do more research to prove diversity helps in business as there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence. Studies from other sectors show it has a positive effect on the bottom line and profitability seems the best way to drive change.

Yes, more senior women would lead to a better workplace but can that counter the long hours work culture that gets passed down?

So the abused becomes the abuser?! Yes, office culture is important but the issue’s much wider than that. For the built environment industry, whose output affects how society interacts, there’s a compelling argument that greater diversity at executive level would lead to better design outcomes for everyone. But proving it is the key!

So you don’t feel the industry is changing of its own accord?

There’s a sense now that gender is actively discussed by larger organisations, which is encouraging. There aren’t many more women are in senior positions now than when I was starting out, and that’s problematic. The network wants to use its experience to analyse why some women’s careers flourish more than others.

And career-breaks for child-rearing isn’t an issue?

No, I would say it’s more about pay. If you’re in a profession that tolerates low pay you can’t afford child care. That has nothing to do with being a woman: the issue applies to both parents and is a financial one.

So where to from here?

We’ve launched the website and we’re expanding the network through personal invitations to both men and women to join as mentors. We ask members to give three days a year to be a role model for diversity and advocate the business benefits of gender balance. Our first event is in September to set the agenda for the coming year.

For the full article see here