We are proud to announce that along with 25 fellow consortium members, we have secured funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 for an amazing project called DivAirCity.

This is an ambitious project with a focus on gender, that aims to shift the urban paradigm by valuing human diversity as a resource that can help define new urban services and models for culturally-driven green cities. 

The project will run from September 2021, for four years and will explore the power of diversity and social inclusion as a mean of reducing air pollution and achieving a green urban nexus in climate neutral cities.

Equilibrium Network has already been strongly involved in helping to define DivAirCity’s strategic aims and, as the project becomes a reality, we look forward to ensuring that women’s voices are heard in the planning, delivery and long term legacy of all DivAirCity’s initiatives.  We will do this by building on our five objectives:

  1. To create an international network open to new initiatives and making change happen.
  2. To influence the industry to deliver diversity and inclusion, with a particular emphasis on women.
  3. To promote the needs, preferences and aspirations of women in the design of our built environment.
  4. To address the attrition rate of women working within the industry.
  5. To increase the number of women at the top of organisations that create and shape the built environment.

To find out more about DivAirCity, visit the website:  https://divaircity.eu


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 equilibrium@colander.co.uk 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 equilibrium@colander.co.uk.  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 Moncaster:Alice.moncaster@open.ac.uk or amm24@cam.ac.uk

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