The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway starts on Monday 22nd May 2017 on BBC Two at 9pm – full broadcast details and links to watch again can be found on the BBC programme pages. Explore all our related content below and order your free poster to accompany the series.
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The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway: The Final Countdown
Ten thousand engineers and construction workers race to complete Crossrail.
Available on BBC iPlayerBBC Two on Monday
29th May 2017 at 9:00PM
This series follows more than ten thousand engineers and construction workers as they race to complete the brand new railway directly underneath the city - Crossrail, London's new Underground - in time for the first trains to start running.
Costing fifteen billion pounds, it is the biggest engineering project in Europe. Linda Miller, an engineer more at home constructing space launch complexes at Cape Canaveral, must build what will become Britain's busiest station - Farringdon - an underground structure longer than the Shard skyscraper is tall. Linda and her team battle ancient fault lines that threaten the site with flooding, race to build emergency access tunnels to alleviate pressure on a congested construction site, and piece together a giant geometric jigsaw that will form a 'cathedral'-sized station entrance. Engineers in Whitechapel must drag the original Victorian station into the 21st century by building a brand new station on top of a bridge.
While construction workers build innovative 'floating' rail tracks directly under the Barbican Concert Hall to stop noisy trains from disturbing performances as they travel right underneath the building at 90mph. The episode ends with a very special visitor arriving on site to give it, the railway its new title - the Elizabeth Line.
- Episode 2
A city in the making
Cities depend on circulations - of people, materials, goods, energy, and information. It is urban infrastructures that make those circulations possible. Such infrastructures include networks of transportation, communication, supply and, increasingly, digital data that allows people and objects to be mobile. They include, less obviously, the technical standards, bureaucratic systems, and regulatory governance that allows such networks to function. The images and words on this poster offer some ways of thinking about the different forms this shaping can take with the intention of drawing your attention to how, when, where and why cities are never finished and always in the making.
Nick Bingham discusses 'smart cities' and how digital technologies are changing the ways in which cities are planned and maintained.Read now ❯Digital urban infrastructures: Smart cities in the making
At the beginning of the 21st century, more than half the world’s population live in cities. Issues about governance, intensification of social relationships, the impact of globalisation, and the way green spaces are utilised become ever more pressing concerns. The tracks on this album explore some of the challenges faced across the world as citizens and administrators adapt to ever increasing pressures on city spaces and resources. The material forms part of the course DD304, Understanding Cities.Listen now ❯Understanding Cities
More people than ever before are coming to live in cities. How do we cope sharing relatively small urban areas with a diverse range of people? Melissa Butcher of the OpenSpace Research Centre has some ideas...Listen now ❯Navigating cities: Urban life in the 21st Century
Urban processes are increasingly held to be responsible for causing a variety of problems environmental destruction, social injustice, global financial instability. They are also identified as harbouring the potential to meet these challenges through urban experiments in sustainable living, creative culture and alternative economies. This free course, Changing cities, explores how contemporary processes of urbanisation challenge how we think about political agency, providing a framework for the analysis of the causes, implications and responses to issues of common concern.Learn more ❯Changing cities
This online module will change your way of seeing and solving complex problems for ever. Through a mix of academic and practical work, you'll develop an understanding of design, acquire new design skills, and build a portfolio of design projects as a strong foundation for future study or work experience. It looks at common principles of design and thinking that lead to creative ideas and solutions in all design disciplines. Within a specially created online design studio, you'll complete practical activities and interact with tutors and other students, experiencing a completely different way of learning.Learn more ❯Design thinking: creativity for the 21st century
This module examines the range of human activity that is ’engineering’, setting current practice in a historical context and looking forward to new developments that will help shape the future.Read more ❯Engineering: origins, methods, context
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BA (Honours) Environmental Studies
Environmental change affects us all, and the challenge of how human society can – and should – respond to environmental problems is likely to be one of the most pressing issues of the twenty-first century. The BA (Hons) Environmental Studies is an original and topical qualification that provides a lively and engaging treatment of a broad range of environmental issues. It integrates the social sciences, technology and sciences to help you develop a comprehensive understanding of the environment. While studying towards this degree course you’ll learn about the political, economic, social and scientific conflicts that are at the heart of important contemporary environmental problems and debates. You’ll explore subjects such as climate change; air pollution; waste management; genetically modified food; over-fishing; renewable fuels; sustainability; and global trade. Throughout your studies, you’ll have specialist, subject-based academic support and the chance to join in online communities of other social sciences students for teaching, learning and peer support.Learn more ❯BA (Honours) Environmental Studies
Pixabay under Creative-Commons license
Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)
From microscopic electronic devices to super structures like dams, bridges and towers, engineering has a vast scope that touches every area of our lives. The BEng (Hons) is a fascinating and thorough general engineering degree course that explores the fundamentals of this creative and analytical subject, and provides a firm foundation on which to build a successful career. It covers the range of techniques, concepts and knowledge required by professional engineers – from materials and mechanics to design and modelling – and you’ll have the opportunity to specialise in a number of areas: engineering design, environmental technologies, or energy and sustainability. Learning outcomes have been defined to fulfil the Engineering Council’s requirements under UK-SPEC, and early on in your studies you’ll compile a development plan aimed to fulfil your personal and professional aims. You’ll work on real projects and there are two compulsory week-long residential schools where you’ll team up with other students to create innovative solutions to challenging problems.Learn more ❯Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)
Dr Nick Bingham
Senior Lecturer in Geography, FASS
Nick's interest in taking seriously the role that non-human entitles (whether they are insects and microbes or technologies and data) play in social life has involved him researching topics as diverse as food safety, the bee crisis and smart cities. See more about Nick
Dr George Revill
Senior Lecturer in Geography, FASS
George has worked on a number of OU environmental and social science modules. Current research brings issues of sound, mobility, communication and landscape together in terms of acoustic geographies of space, place, landscape and environment. See more about George
Prof Jeff Johnson
Professor of Complexity Science & Design, STEM
Jeff is interested in the application of systems thinking and design in environmental, social and economic policy. He has worked on modules and courses in many areas including design, mathematics, artificial intelligence, robotics and engineering. See more about Jeff