Jane Wernick

Jane Wernick

Practice: Jane Wernick Associates Ltd
Established: 1998
City: London
Country: United Kingdom
[email protected]

Jane is a structural engineer who likes to collaborate with architects and other designers on any project that gives delight. She worked for Arup for many years, where her most notable project was the Millennium Wheel. She directs Jane Wernick Associates, a small firm responsible for a wide portfolio of buildings, bridges, sculptures and furniture.
She has taught at many architecture schools, including Harvard's Graduate School of Design, the Mackintosh School of Architecture and the Architectural Association. She is a member of the CABE Design Review Panel, the CIC Diversity Panel, the Edge, and the steering committee of RIBA Building Futures, for which she edited the book, Building Happiness - Architecture to Make You Smile.

Jane Wernick Associates Ltd

The steel structure
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Living Architecture: Balancing Barn, Thorington, Suffolk, U.K.

Living Architecture is a series of holiday houses by some of the best contemporary architects, aiming to transform the public's view of modern architecture. The Balancing Barn in Suffolk, by MVRDV appears to balance precariously on a hillside. The structure is a five-sided 30m long trussed steel tube. It is supported for half its length, with the other half cantilevering over the ground below. The cantilever is counterbalanced with a 400mm thick slab.

The steel structure
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Do you think our profession is diverse enough? Structural engineering in the UK is dominated by white men, which is a shame, because we are missing out on the range of contributions that different sorts of people can bring. A better balance of men and women would lead to more collaborative ways of working. The conversations would be more interesting as we would bring a wider set of experiences to bear on how we approach our work.
If you could change one thing in our profession, what would it be? It would be great if we could work in a world where all the members of the design team and the project managers had good understanding and respect for each other and were given the opportunity to engage with the client throughout the process. I would ban project managers who try to keep the client and the team at a distance.
What do you find most rewarding in your area of work? I find design to be the most rewarding area of my work. I particularly enjoy the early conversations with an architect if we work with them on a competition entry: developing the detailed design is much more interesting if we understand the design aspirations for the project. I also enjoy teaching both architecture and engineering students. I find their ideas inspire me, and the process of explaining how structures work helps to clarify my own ideas.