New CIBSE president focuses on the art in engineering

CIBSE, Peter Wong

Peter Wong, president of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, used his inaugural address to change perceptions about building-services engineers and argue that they should see themselves as artists and practitioners. He is from Hong Kong and was the chair of CIBSE HK Branch and the founding chair of the building-services division of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, of which he was elected President in 2008.

He drew analogies between the principles of art that went into creating some of the world’s great masterpieces of air and the principles that go into creating high-performance buildings such as Hong Kong’s International Commerce Centre and Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay.

Referring to his status as the first CIBSE president from the Hong Kong region, he called for CIBSE to reach out to engineers outside the UK and the established regions in order to deepen its pool of experts and provide more knowledge on topics relevant to an international audience.

He said, ‘My presidential pledge is to inspire the industry to embody the sprit and values of being a CIBSE member and to promote the positive message of the values we believe in, the professionalism we treasure and the aspiration of exchanging best practice among like-minded professional worldwide.

‘Building-services engineers are one of the most important professions for the future health of the planet, and the world is depending on what we do to ensure that we have healthy and productive places to live and work for generations.’

He also explored the core mission of CIBSE ‘to promote the science, art and practice of engineering’. He argued that the art is the most important of these three objectives, because it is the structured and principled nature of the art of engineering that separates competent engineers from truly great engineers.

He highlighted the different types of art present in a building by looking back at previous winners of the CIBSE Building Performance Awards as buildings representing the art of building engineering in different ways — from physical beauty, to the beauty of their complexity, to the beauty of their function and their positive effects on their occupants.

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