Watch Chris’ presentation on the complexities of the challenges facing our world today and unique opportunities  for designers and design thinking. Video credit: Dansk Design Center

Dr. Chris Luebkeman is a bridge builder of many kinds. He is a third generation educator who has been formally educated as a geologist, structural engineer and architect who believes that successful design cannot be separated from breadth of knowledge and steadfast inquiry. Prior to joining Arup in 1999, he taught in the Departments of Architecture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology [ETH] in Zurich, the University of Oregon, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology [MIT]. His industry funded research program at MIT, which continues today, is entitled “house_n; MIT’s intelligent home of the future”. This is a technology and tectonic exploration of the integration of the digital with the physical. He continues to utilise his broad interests and enthusiastic belief in our zeitgeist in his current position as Director for Global Foresight and Innovation at Arup.  His experiences have enabled him to specialise in being a generalist with a view to being “in league with the future”.

Chris is an active facilitator and motivational speaker. He lectures widely [51 cities in 26 countries in 2006-2008] on the future, sustainability, and innovation, as well as on research at Arup. He facilitated the creation of an eCommerce strategy, initiated a series of research projects on the future and is constantly encouraging lateral thinking. He is a member of Arup’s Design and Technical Executive which promotes the highest standards of design and technical skill to ensure that Arup is one of the world’s leading practitioners in its chosen fields. He spends a lot of time advising how the driving forces of global change should be incorporated into more effective global business strategies. His role puts him at the forefront of understanding where “things are heading” and enables Arup to be there first.

Chris Luebkeman

CHRIS LUEBKEMAN’s opening remarks
InDialogues 2012. 26 Jan. Davos. Switzerland

For me, four words that I would use just to structure my thoughts: the first is infrastructure, second entrepreneurship, the third is thrival and the fourth is leadership and so that infrastructure is fundamental. It is an asset but it is also a problem. I asked my guys from India so when you think of innovation in India what comes to mind and they say very often, frustration. Because there are no rules to the road. It is very challenging to understand where to go. And I have to say I've been to India twice. Got picked up at the airport, got stuck in traffic, went to a conference centre, did some stuff got back into the car and left again, so I've never seen India. But this infrastructure issue came up again and again and again. And I think that is something that has a huge opportunity for this bottom up but also from the institutional or civil society to try to help in gender, civil infrastructure, roads, rails, etc which allow access and mobility, access to opportunity which will then encourage innovation.

I have rarely met so many interesting, faceting, passionate and very quiet entrepreneurs as I have at the conferences that I go to that are in India. And this quiet entrepreneurship, it's not that brash I'm from Atlanta Georgia i'm going to tell you what I've done before I've done anything. Its I'm doing this. I'm doing it. It's not promises it's actions. To me that is very impressive, I continue to be impressed with that. I feel this is like the tsunami, it's bulging. This moving from a society focused on survival to thrival and to me that is a very subtle differentiation and this is this growth of the middle class. This belief that we as a people as a nation are not just surviving in the world, not just surviving in our class, we're actually thriving. And that mindset is also to me fundamental to being an innovator, its like I'm not just gonna survive I want to thrive. And that I think brings to the fourth point, which is leadership. In order for one to feel like they can be thriving, one needs to have leadership which is both empowering and encouraging. And to me this kind of leadership is crucial to have to encourage and to be very visible and vocal. One example is the ex chief minister Chandrababu Naidu and how he truly turned that city around through strong leadership and vision and that created many innovative solutions. Hyderabad has one of the best airports in the world. And that leadership at every strata of society to encourage and embrace is so vital.



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