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Magdalene College Cambridge

Professor Robin Spence

Professor Robin Spence is a Structural Engineer and Emeritus Professor of Architectural Engineering in the Department of Architecture at Cambridge University.

After five years of structural design practice with Ove Arup and Partners he spent two years teaching at the University of Zambia, followed by two years as Research Officer for the Intermediate Technology Development Group, researching small-scale building materials technology in Africa and India. After obtaining his  Ph.D he was a teaching officer with the Cambridge University Architecture Department from 1975 to 2008, and a Director and Joint Director of the Martin Centre 1985-1990. In 1987 he and several colleagues founded the consultancy group Cambridge Architectural Research Ltd of which he was Chairman 1989-2001, and continues to be a Director. He was President (2002-2006) of the European Association for Earthquake Engineering.



1963  M.A. (Cantab) 1st Class Honours in Engineering

1966  M.Sc. (Cornell) Structural Engineering

1967  Member, Institution of Structural Engineers (Fellow 1996)

1968  Member, Institution of Civil Engineers

1974  Ph.D., Department of Engineering, Cambridge

Research Interests

Professor Spence's principal research and consultancy interest is disaster risk assessment and mitigation. He has directed numerous research and consultancy contracts he is the author of several books and more than 150 technical papers in these areas, and has worked closely with colleagues in many countries on understanding risk and construction technology choices in development and post-disaster situations. He is a past-member of the Scientific Board of GEM, the Global Earthquake Model, and was convenor of GEM’s risk task group.

Career/Research Highlights

1982  Founder of EEFIT (Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation Team).

1987  Founder Director of Cambridge Architectural Research Ltd.

1992-1994  Tutor of Magdalene College.

1994  First Director of the M.St. Course in Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment (a joint course between Engineering and Architecture Departments, the University’s first Part-Time Masters’ Course).

1996-2008  Director of CURBE, the Cambridge University Centre for Risk in the Built Environment.

2002-2010  President, then Vice President, of the European Association for Earthquake Engineering.

2008-2010  Member, Scientific Board of GEM, the Global Earthquake Model.

Professional Affiliations

Member, SECED: Society for Earthquakes and Structural Dynamics

Member, EEFIT: Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation Team

Member, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, USA

Member, European Association for Earthquake Engineering

Key Publications

Spence R.J.S., and Cook D.J., 1983. Building Materials in Developing Countries, John Wiley, ISBN 0 471 10235 0

Spence R.J.S., Macmillan S. and Kirby P., 2001 (eds), Interdisciplinary Design in Practice, Thomas Telford, ISBN 07277 3008 8

Coburn A.W. and Spence R.J.S., 2002. Earthquake Protection, Second Edition,  John Wiley 350 pp, ISBN 0 471 91833 4

Coburn A.W., Hughes, R.E., Pomonis, A., Spence R., 1995. Technical Principles of Building for Safety, Intermediate Technology Publications, ISBN 1 85339 182 4.

Spence R.J.S., So, E., and Scawthorn, C., (eds), 2011. Human Casualties in Earthquakes, Springer ISBN 978-90-481-9454-4