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Dr Nicholas Bill

Dr Nicholas Bill

Senior Lecturer

School of Engineering

Email
billn@cardiff.ac.uk
Campuses
S4.07, Queen's Buildings - South Building, 5 The Parade, Newport Road, Cardiff, CF24 3AA
Users
Available for postgraduate supervision

Overview

Dr Nicholas A. Bill is a Senior Lecturer in Civil Engineering currently working with the Materials for Life (M4L) research group in the Department of Civil Engineering, Cardiff University. He is a Chartered Engineer (CEng, MICE) with over 17-years’ experience working as a consultant in industry and teaching across several universities.

Dr Bill aims to bridge the divide between academia and industry through his interests in the design and construction of high-rise structures (i.e. tall buildings), timber structures and in particular, historic structures. He currently acts as the Department’s Industrial Liaison Lead.

His research is broadly divided into three strands:

  1. Engineering and Construction History
  2. Analysis and Adaptation of Historic Structures
  3. Improving Future Structures

Nicholas holds a 4-year Bachelor of Engineering (BE) with Honours from The University of Melbourne (Australia), together with a PhD from the University of Cambridge.

Teaching

I currently teach on the following modules:

EN1915 Design Studies

EN2315 Professional Studies and Construction

EN3104 Construction and Construction Management

EN3300 Major Project

EN4102 Integrated Building Design

Dr Bill’s research focuses on the historic built environment, which is broadly divided into the three inter-linking strands:

1. Engineering and Construction History –

  • Contextualising historic construction technology.
  • Recording historic building details.
  • Understanding previous design philosophies

2. Analysis and Adaptation of Historic Structures –

  • Care and restoration of historic structures.
  • Life extension / Change of use / Avoiding demolition.
  • Understanding barriers to refurbishment
  • Justify existing structures to current codes.

3. Improving Future Structures –

  • Learning Lessons from history.
  • Rediscovering forgotten technology.
  • Avoiding previous mistakes.

Various forms of construction have developed over time, with their origins predating the establishment of the architectural and engineering professions. Despite accounting for the majority of the existing building stock, there is relatively limited published guidance available to properly understand them. Moreover, as engineering develops with the introduction of new analytical tools and construction methods, the next generation of engineers often lose touch with the technology of their predecessors. Given many of our buildings have outlasted their designers and have no available records of their design or construction, a considerable knowledge gap is developing.

By understanding the context in which structures were designed and built, it is then possible to develop rational analytical and design methods to assess the condition and behaviour of structures, either for their modification or extending their design life. It is also possible to develop novel repair techniques which are effective and sympathetic to heritage structures. This is vital as we try to address the issues surrounding the Climate Emergency, both limiting our carbon emissions and safeguarding our built heritage.

Looking at our past achievements and failures also provides lessons for the development of new structures. Many technical innovations faltered due to external factors (economics, politics, etc.). It is possible that old, forgotten building technology may have become viable and perhaps even more beneficial as these external factors change. A key theme in this strand is the development of viable timber structures for buildings and infrastructure.

 

Supervision

Past projects