Eiffel Over

A regular digest of matters engineering, creativity and practical philosophy from your host, Oliver Broadbent.
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Eiffel Over




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Jul 30, 2019

Sophie is an unusual mix of campaigner, practising designer and Chartered Waste Manager. She’s been working in the fields of sustainable design, behaviour change and material process for nearly 20 years. I invited Sophie on to the show to talk about waste and circular design. In our conversation we get into:

  • The engineering of linear and circular products, material selection, recycling houses and oil rigs.
  • The creative strategies for circular designers, and in particular the idea that waste is a design flaw.
  • And the practical philosophy of someone who has spent so long think about waste.
Jun 21, 2019

An engineering detour is something engineers do when they go out of their way, usually on holiday, to go and check out a piece of engineering infrastructure. In this episode I take an engineering detour to the mighty Forth Bridge. Along the way we get into

  • the engineering of the structure,
  • how taking detours can build our creative skills,
  • and on a philosophical note I weigh up facts and figures versus experiential knowledge.

Join me for the ride!

Jan 18, 2018

Don’t try to build a skyscraper yourself without listening to this first: a step-by-step guide on how to build a skyscraper with structural engineer Roma Agrawal, author of 'Built, the Hidden Stories Behind our Structures’. We get into the engineering, creativity and philosophy of sky scrapers and their designers.

Jan 4, 2018

I recorded this episode last summer with my colleague, graphic designer Jack Bardwell just before he left to puruse new adventures in interior architecture. It has been a pleasure therefore to listen his voice in the edit, and to hear the many fascinating things he has to say about his creative process, what he has learnt from working with engineers, and, most intriguingly, the spine-tingling effect other people's creativity can have on him.

I've got a feeling this going to be one of those episodes I keep coming back to when I need angles for looking at the world. Enjoy!

Nov 27, 2017

Journalist and author J-P Flintoff is this person who inspired me to start this podcast. He talks passionately about how to get people started on their creative projects and the positive impact their creativity has on the world. This interview gets very meta: a podcast about the creative process of podcasting. We get into all sorts of great techniques for creative projects, including:

  • Improv games
  • Valuing what you are good at
  • Not losing track of what is working well already
  • The importance of getting started
  • Not worrying about whether it is going to be good.
  • Shared space in the creaive process
  • Why we need to keep noticing

But beyond any particular tactic, it is J-P's warmth and encouragement that I find so inspiring. I hope it inspires you too.

Nov 24, 2017

I can’t think of metropolitan landscape that offers more varied and exciting opportunities for designing transport infrastructure than San Francisco, with its steep hills, its bay, its rapidly changing economy and its tantalisingly separated land masses. In this episode I catch up San Francisco-based transport engineer and old friend Andrew Kosinski and we geek out on transport-related talking points including:

  • Bridgoff: Bay vs. Golden Gate
  • Tearing down freeways
  • Bringing cycling into San Francisco
  • Is driving a right and it is a freedom?
  • The phenomenon of ‘parklets'
  • Tunnelling through ships
  • Building towers on weak and shifting sands
  • The creative bubble of silicon valley and the unintended consequences
  • Autonomous vehicles
  • Using firms like Uber to replace under-productive bus routes
  • Becoming passive consumers of cities
May 12, 2017

Ditching google maps + riding the bart + cycling downtown + Golden Gate Bridge + big trains + hidden cognitive demand of team work and collaboration + measuring student brave waves + what is reality + the latest from Paolo Alto

Apr 24, 2017

Song writer and piano player Ellie Westgarth-Flynn and I talk creative musical strategies, instruments as extensions of our bodies, the tension between technical mastery and creativity and the importance of audience feedback. We also have a jam.

Show notes and more details available from the blog:

Apr 3, 2017

In this episode I attempt a sonic recreation of a part of the London Underground that never got built, a stretch of the Northern Line that would have run from Moorgate to Alexandra Palace. En route I reflect on the transport infrastructure shapes our experience of the city and the difference between what engineers plan and what actually gets built.

Mar 2, 2017

Photographer and photojournalist Nick Cobbing talks about photographing the Arctic, what happens to photographic equipment at minus 38 degrees, using drones to take photos, the role of the audience in the creative process, being reduced to tears by the beauty of the planet, the best places to swing dance north of the Arctic, life hacks for creative people working on their own and whether penguins tango or waltz.

Feb 12, 2017

Ever since I saw my first one zoom past as a boy I’ve loved TGVs. In January I travelled from one side of France to the other and back by high-speed train to get to a conference, and used the chance to try to capture some of what I love about fast trains in France. It’s a mash up of travel diary, interviews and engineering history, all stitched together with familiar SNCF noises. Close your eyes and bon voyage...

Jan 25, 2017

Andrew is a filmmaker specialising in the built environment. Andrew seems to have interviewed or met almost all of my engineering design heroes (except Eiffel), and so I was equally delighted and nervous when he agreed to let me interview him! In this podcast we explore one of Andrew’s passions, the identification and celebration of engineering culture. Along the way way we get in to some great stories about designers, what they design and how they do it.

Aug 7, 2016
I’ve been thinking about creating an Eiffelover podcast for over a year. Last week at Port Eliot festival I saw John-Paul Flintoff (@jpflintoff) give a great talk on creativity in which he challenged us to name one creative project that we want to do, and commit to taking the first step...
And so this is it, the Eiffelover podcast, the first of what I hope will become a regular digest of matters engineering, creative and practically philosophical garnered from the people I meet, the workshops I run and the material I read. I hope you find it useful. 
To kick off, I created my first episode here at Electromagnetic Field camp, a non-profit UK camping festival for those with an inquisitive mind or an interest in making things: hackers, artists, geeks, crafters, scientists, and engineers.
In this podcast I meet some of the fantastic people here at EMF camp and their imaginitive creations, I dig around to find out what makes these creative people tick, and I get into a fascinating conversation with Richard Sewell about ‘Thingness’, a term he and his colleague coined to talk about the power of making things. Listen now to learn more. 
People mentioned
Anna Ploszajski - @AnnaPloszajski - and her Reubens Tube -
Steve Cross - @scienceshowoff
Helen Leigh - @helenleigh
Richard Sewell - @jarkman