Neil Thomas is the founder and director of Atelier One, one of the most creative engineering practices in the UK. The firm has worked on building projects such as Singapore Arts Centre, Federation Square in Australia, and Baltic in Gateshead, as well as with a hugely impressive roster of artists, including Anish Kapoor, Marc Quinn and Rachel Whiteread. It has also created stages for stadium rock shows from Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, U2, and Take That, often in collaboration with architect, the late Mark Fisher.
The practice was the engineer behind the opening ceremony of London’s 2012 Olympic Games and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. While Neil also teaches at Yale and MIT.
Over recent years, he has developed a fascination with bamboo and was part of the team that created the award-winning Arc building, a community wellness space and gymnasium for the Green School campus in Bali.
In this episode we chat about: the role of a structural engineer; his ability to talk a number of design languages; the genesis of his obsession with bamboo and its extraordinary properties; overcoming bamboo’s image problem; giving up a teaching post at Yale to build with the material; wanting to be an engineer from childhood; the importance of David Bowie to his life; and, er, having a pony tail in his youth.
Find out more about Neil Thomas and Atelier One