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EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Infrastructure and Built Environment

Studying at Cambridge

 

Dr Hannah Baker

Date in FIBE: 2014-2019

Very brief history before joining: Prior to joining FIBE, I worked as a research assistant in the Risk Team at Cambridge Architectural Research Ltd (CAR). This followed the completion of my BA in Architecture at the University of Cambridge and MA in Town and Country Planning at the University of the West of England, Bristol.

Title of thesis plus a very short summary: "The decision to demolish or adapt existing buildings on masterplan sites".
My thesis extends current adaptation theory by considering the practical realities of adaptation and demolition decisions at the masterplan scale, as existing adaptation theory mainly focuses on individual buildings or the city level. A qualitative inductive approach was used to generate new knowledge through interviews, focus groups and case study investigations. The consideration of two regularly cited benefits of adaptation, the conservation of heritage and savings in materials, were investigated. The case studies also identified further complexities that influence these decisions including planning structures, people involved and long timespans. 

Why did you join FIBE? I thoroughly enjoyed the research projects I undertook whilst working as a research assistant at CAR and knew that I wanted to pursue a career in research. Despite not being an engineer, FIBE’s broader focus on the Built Environment was relevant to me.

How did it help you? I had a bit of time to explore potential research topics during the MRes year and fortunately the topic that I chose for my MRes thesis formed the foundations to my PhD research. I was also able to utilise the funding to attend conferences and undertake two secondments, one at TU Delft, Netherlands and the other at UTS Sydney, Australia. These helped me to reinforce links with key academics in my research field that I had established during my MRes year.

What are you doing now? I am now a Research Associate at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) at the University of Cambridge. I am part of a project called Expertise Under Pressure which aims to establish a broad framework for understanding what makes expertise authoritative, when experts overreach, and what realistic demands communities should place on experts. The foci of my two case studies are the use of experts in 1) examining heritage buildings and 2) disaster response situations.

Contact: heb51@cam.ac.uk