Engineers are naturally creative, from problem solving to designing and planning. But when you combine that with visual creativity, it leads to unique and beautiful things.

Today we meet an Irish engineer who is using his engineering skills and artistic flair to design some of the most impressive structures across the world, including a very well known New York tourist attraction.

Our expert guest has worked in over 20 countries across the globe and is passionate about the architectural response to the climate crisis. He is Principal and Founder of VOLUTA, Eoin Casserly.



  • Engineering as a passport to the world
  • Working through design limitations with efficiency
  • Complex design with user experience in mind
  • The architectural response to the climate crisis
  • Chartered Engineer of the Year award and its benefits



Eoin Casserly is principal and founder of VOLUTA, a specialist structural engineering consultancy operating internationally, based in Sligo. Previously, he held structural engineering positions in Paris, New York, and Stuttgart. He has designed advanced structures such as gridshells, cable nets, facades, stadia, and artworks in more than 20 countries, working through six languages.

Project highlights include the highest outdoor observation deck in the Western Hemisphere, the world’s first cable net with curved glass, the largest-spanning glazed roof in South America, and gridshells for the largest botanic garden in the world. His current research combines pre-industrial materials with innovative construction and analysis techniques.

Casserly won the Engineers Ireland Chartered Engineer of the Year Award in 2023.



Looking for ways to explore or advance a career in the field of engineering? Visit Engineers Ireland to learn more about the many programs and resources on offer.  

Engineers Journal AMPLIFIED is produced by for Engineers Ireland.



We're really guided by the beauty and efficiency of nature, because if you imagine a seashell, or a snail, it doesn't want to spend undue energy making what they have to live in, they want to do in the most beautiful, most efficient, and the least energy intensive form they can, which ends up being really beautiful. - Eoin Casserly

There's a great quote, that architecture is dancing in chains.  There are limitations, but you can always work around these. Limitations can create a box for something new. And that's part of the beauty of it all. - Eoin Casserly

Around 30% of global waste is produced by the construction industry. It's a massively wasteful industry. A big focus of VOLUTA is this shift to a more sustainable method of building. - Eoin Casserly



#glass #engineering #design #climatecrisis #structuralengineering #architecture #charteredengineer



For your convenience, we include an automated AI transcription


Dusty Rhodes 00:00

Right now on AMPLIFIED we're about to find out how engineering meets art in structural design.


Eoin Casserly 00:05

To make the problem even more complex, the world is urbanizing at a huge rate, and the amount of building compared to a city the size of New York will have to be built every month until around 2060. So it's an enormous challenge.


Dusty Rhodes 00:20

Hi there, my name is Dusty Rhodes and welcome to AMPLIFIED, the Engineers Journal podcast. As we know, engineers are naturally creative from problem solving to designing and planning. But when you combine that with visual creativity, it leads to unique and beautiful things. Today, we're chatting with an Irish engineer who is using his engineering skills and artistic flair to design some of the most impressive structures across the world. We'll find out how he blends his love for engineering and art, with a passion for responding to the climate crisis, and what he's learned from working in 20 countries across the globe. I'm delighted to welcome the founder of VOLUTA, Eoin Casserly, Eoin how are you?


Eoin Casserly 00:59

Great, thanks. Thanks for having me.


Dusty Rhodes 01:00

So listen, tell me what what got you into this wonderful, crazy business we call engineering?


Eoin Casserly 01:07

Well, I suppose I didn't really have a very clear idea of what I wanted to do. But engineering seemed to have this combination of technical skills, I suppose I saw a lot of my strengths and in maths and physics and and these very technical subjects, but also, other other areas, you know, languages are to design. And I think the handy thing is that you get to combine all of these with engineering. So I study structural engineering with architecture in UCD. But probably it wasn't until I moved into my first job in Paris that I really started to think of it as a something I wanted to do. I was working for a company called tests in Paris. And it was a bit more glamorous than what I would have expected for an engineering job. So the company at the time was designing the finessing. Graviton, this enormous museum on the west of Paris. And because of this, it was a new company, it was only about a year established. And they were working in a Louis Vuitton office. So I was a 22 year old guy from San Diego, going to work every day in a Louis Vuitton office with these incredibly cultured, multilingual people, who also just happen to be as well really competent and brilliant at their jobs. So it really opened my eyes to what was out there. And I think, drove my career then.


Dusty Rhodes 02:46

And they say one of the things about engineering is that once you have that it's a passport to the world. And you've opened up by saying you worked at Louis Vuitton, in Paris, what a great start, you've worked elsewhere in the world. Tell me give give us give us a sample.


Eoin Casserly 03:04

So I, after I finished my master's, I moved to New York, and eventually started working for a company called stretch begonnen, which is a German company, with offices and a few countries around the world. From there, I was mostly mostly working on us projects and a lot on a new development at the time called Hudson Yards, which was a $25 billion real estate development, basically making a new neighborhood within New York. And from there, worked a little bit on on stuff outside the US, because I had the experience in parasites, advice on some some projects there as well. My visa ends in the States. And then I decided to move to the headquarters of that company slash burger man in Stuttgart, in Germany. At that stage, I was working as I suppose the technical lead for for glass projects, so anything with a bit of glass and as I was giving technical inputs, and they're one of the leading companies in the world for architecture class. So I was advising on projects for say, the Chinese office, the Paris office, are doing a few projects in Brazil, the US a few in Canada. So all over the world, really. And then from there, I ended up leaving that company during COVID to set up my own company. Initially, I was I started off in I was living at the time in Palermo, or nearby Palermo in Sicily, where my wife's family are from, and from there had the idea to eventually move back to Ireland and set up my own company work on projects across the world, from their from my company here in Slagle I've worked on projects in Oman, the Netherlands, a few in the US, Belgium, Austria, Germany. And hopefully some soon and it's common. And you


Dusty Rhodes 05:13

said that you met your wife in Italy, the name of your company voluto is strikes me as being an Italian word, is it? And what does it mean?


Eoin Casserly 05:21

Well, I actually met my wife in New York, but her family's from from Sicily. So we all run during COVID. So it's a it's the name of a seashell, it was actually probably the toughest thing about starting a company was finding a good name. So fluid is the name of a seashell. And it's also the name of a type of facade detail. So those two things, I think, combined, give us a sense of what the company does. So we're really guided by the beauty and efficiency of nature, because if you imagine a seashell, snail or, or whatever, doesn't want to spend onto energy, making this water what they have to live in, they want to do in the most beautiful, I suppose efficient, and least energy intensive form they can they can make, which ends up being really beautiful. And so taking inspiration as well from from Moscow performing as a big, big part of the company.


Dusty Rhodes 06:19

And do you feel like kind of that little creature? Because you're just one? No, but what I mean, seriously, you're one human being, and you're designing these huge big projects, which are, you know, 1000 times bigger than you are? And you're keeping in mind the functionality of it, but also how it looks on the practicality of it. Have you ever had a design dream in your head? That was like structurally or logistically too big?


Eoin Casserly 06:51

Just on the first part, I don't think I can ever say I don't think anyone can really ever say that they're the soul. No,


Dusty Rhodes 06:58

of course, no, I don't I don't I'm not putting it all down to you. You're involved in it? I know. Yes. Yeah.


Eoin Casserly 07:05

It's something that I thought before I started working in all of this, that it was something that's portrayed or lost as one, you know, it's creative genius, alone, in engineering, which isn't ever the case at all, that it's always a team of people, there's always a huge amount of compromise. This, really a lot of the time, you're just a facilitator, that for, for other people's visions, or for a combined vision. Plus, there's limiting factors in terms of, you know, the reality of of materials, and what can be achieved with them. Plus, I think there's a, there's a great quote, This architecture is dancing in chains. So they have these limitations, that these chains, but that you can still dance, when you're held down by them. And that's, that's from God, Mark, I think. But I think that there are limitations. But you can always work around these, you know, this limitations can create a box for something new. And that's part of the beauty of it all, I think.


Dusty Rhodes 08:12

Do you think that when you have limitations when you try to achieve something, or to design something, that because of those very limitations, you come up with something brilliant?


Eoin Casserly 08:22

Exactly. I think that's the beauty of it all, that if you're designing without these limitations, then you're purely, you know, you might as well be a video game designer, that this is not based in reality, we have all of these realities are these, these limitations in what's actually constructible, the you really have to be, you can't be sitting in an ivory tower, just saying, get this done. This is I believe this is possible without basically doing it yourself, you have to first understand how someone can build it. I think that's a huge part of overall, which a lot of unfortunately, a lot of engineers they think are, are a little bit divorced from the construction side of things. And architects to this, you really have to understand that side of, of what can be built to understand the sequence of AI can be built, even for natural limitations of of who you're working with. That I think all of these combines. These limitations are actually what create, create the best projects.


Dusty Rhodes 09:26

Do you have any particular project where he is kind of started off going, Oh, my God, this is never gonna happen. And then you made the U turn it around or something.


Eoin Casserly 09:35

There were a few projects where we were doing things that had never been done before. So, you know, we're world firsts. And there's always an idea that if you're going to hire or are using something that hasn't been used before, this from first principles, you can figure this thing out. But there's always a shaky moment of Where you will question yourself and wonder, you know, how, how do we test this? How do we ensure that everything is safe, but that's the process, I suppose that you have to believe it is.


Dusty Rhodes 10:17

One of the projects that I've seen that you were involved in, I think, is one that everybody listening to the podcast will know. And that is back in your time in New York City. And I don't know if it's part of the project where you're literally developing the new neighborhood over the railway, but the edge in New York as a huge tourist attraction, where literally, I don't know what floor it is, but it looks like the 250/7 floor as you walk up to this massive balcony thing. And it looks like you're hanging over the edge of the building, how, what was your involvement in that project.


Eoin Casserly 10:48

So I was the project manager and lead engineer for the work on the secondary structure and facades, glass floor, the glass perimeter, basically everything apart from the primary structure, what directly attaches to the building. So I also didn't, there's a, there's a staircase in it, leading up to, to a second store that I also didn't want didn't have any involvement in. But basically, everything else I was, had my my hand in, I actually haven't been to a census is finished. So it's, I suppose it was one of the really unique parts of that was this, it's in a yard, these, if you think about when I was going back to thinking about how this can be constructed. So there was only basically, I think it was one night allowed for closing off the roads in New York, to transport this thing. So there has to be a huge amount of pre assembly. So there were modules are called modules, basically, individual pieces connected together, done in a factory, which would then be assembled on us. If you can imagine it almost like Lego on site. So craned up around 400 meters high, and then a fit to within three millimeters of tolerance of each other. So the three millimeters of tolerance of each other needed to be exact, because of I've actually cleaning it to allowing the facade maintenance teams to calm down the rails. And if those, if those rails were even slightly Miss connected to each other, by three millimeters or more, then they might get stuck. So this involves a huge amount of analysis on the individual modules to ensure this, there was enough adjustability, to connect them in the air at 400 meters with the battery with no scaffolding underneath, which is another big part of it. So then there was also apart from the modules, which is the, I suppose the structural part and the sad part. There's also the glass. So there's a three major tall cantilever bridge, glass barrier around the edge, and the highest outer glass floor in the world. So for this, these were, I suppose a little bit different to the more heavy structural, structural steel parts of the modules, there were more fine, lightweight, architectural designs. And we really had to find a balance between transparency and the structural stability of the glass. Because this is where you might look as glass in your window. But it's not holding up anything. The glass and these is preventing is holding itself up. And also holding up a full group of people standing on a jumping on it, whatever and needs to maintain its capacity for for many, many years. So you could go very thick with the glass. So have many, many layers. But you lose a bit of the transparency, you lose the whole idea of what you're you're putting it there for the first place. So find your balance there with some some fairly complex finite element analysis and through testing as well, to figure out exactly the minimum that we can use that will still be safe. Still be structurally sound.


Dusty Rhodes 14:33

That sounds amazing. I mean, it's such an iconic thing being the edge in New York. Was that your biggest challenge today or have you dealt with something even bigger?


Eoin Casserly 14:43

Yeah. Lots of lots of big projects like that. One that comes to mind is our first project with voluto which is over which was we're finished with a no or man Botanic Garden. So this is the biggest project in the history of of Oman, making the biggest botanic garden in the world. I was the technical consultant for the grid shells in this. So the idea behind this Botanic Garden is to showcase the diversity of plants in Oman, which actually has lots of different climates. And so there's in the north of the country, in the mountains, there's a northern climate, like juniper trees, things like this. And then in the south, they have what's called the Hareesh season, which is monsoon season, that actually brings a lot of green, very unexpectedly in the south of Oman. And this huge biodiversity, they wanted to showcase this partially for tourism, and also just to show what, what amazing biodiversity on and has. So in these two grid shells, these two quite freeform looking steel and glass structures, the ideas to house and the northern biome, the plants of the northern regions, and in the southern biome, the plants of the southern region. So this was, and still is just an amazing project. The scale is, is outstanding, the x axis and beyond photos from site A few weeks ago, which really these these things look big on a computer. But once they're actually built, it's at another level entirely. A


Dusty Rhodes 16:33

lot of the projects that you're talking about are in public spaces, and therefore the public is the experience of the people who's going to experience these spaces important to you, while you're doing the design are


Eoin Casserly 16:46

hugely I mean, to everyone in the design process, I think it's best the goal. I mean, there can be lots of little things that you you obsess over, that maybe people might not notice. But it's it's always the end goal is is the end user. And


Dusty Rhodes 17:02

with engineering, when you're coming to having to do a design for a particular purpose, and you've got so many challenges to overcome, when you figure them all out, is then also adding the fact that the public must think this is amazing. Does that add to it? Or does it make it a more interesting project? Oh,


Eoin Casserly 17:20

definitely makes it more interesting. I mean, it's it's always really interesting to see how people engage with structures and with with the architecture, because it can be completely different sometimes to what you expect her to what everyone in the design team is imagining. And I think that's, that's the beauty that, you know, you, you can spend years on, on something. But someone else can just come and have a completely fresh perspective on it. After a few minutes,


Dusty Rhodes 17:54

and as well as thinking about that a factor of that the yield, the public has to be wowed by this design, you like working with glass as well? In what ways does that make these structural process more difficult?


Eoin Casserly 18:07

Well, for one thing, glass has very different tolerances to the more standard building materials. So you're often looking at tolerances of a millimeter for glass, where you know, for steel, you might be looking at a 10 it's a very fine piece of design work that you have to have to really understand how how things will be installed, how they will be maintained, which is critical, obviously, you don't want if you design this, this brilliant piece of of glass, that it just gets dirty after a few weeks and then remains dirty forever. But you have to understand the process of of how everything's done. The fabrication process, installation process, obviously the the first principles of the engineering, and it's quite a new while it's maybe not that new, it's maybe you know, probably 40 years, where people are working with structural glass or glass to actually hold up itself or, or other parts of a building. So it's quite a niche, niche area, with research sometimes coming out. So this may change your perspective on it. What do you mean by that? What is it because it's not as well studied as other materials. The research on it can can be, I suppose, maybe a bit more groundbreaking breaking down, for example, with steel where a lot of it has already been figured out. So for example, there isn't or it's coming out soon the Euro code for glass, a design manual for glass, which of course with lots of other materials is already present for a long time. So there's debate it's very different in every country as well, there'll be huge differences in standards of, of what can be used for glass structures, say from Brazil to the US or to, to Germany, a big part of that is having to rely on your knowledge of first principles of the chemistry, the manufacturing of the material, to know what will work, what's safe, or what isn't. So take little pieces of these courts from all around the world, to add to your knowledge,


Dusty Rhodes 20:32

it's fascinating to hear these things that you're passionate about with the design of the materials and the glass and everything and how you're able to just bring it into your work. You're also passionate about the architecture response to the climate crisis. Can you tell me a little bit how you weave sustainability into your work?


Eoin Casserly 20:52

Yeah, well, I think it's the big challenge for the construction industry in general. So something this that isn't talked about a huge amount, especially not in, I suppose mainstream in papers, for example, you don't see this, the buildings and construction in general accounts for normally around 40% of, of the world's global greenhouse gas emissions. The law was the things about, you know, to reduce flying, which is a great idea. But no one ever talks about using less concrete and mainstream discussions of the climate crisis. But we are in addition to about 40%, of of global greenhouse gas emissions around 30% of of global waste, is produced by the construction industry. It's a massively wasteful industry. And it's, it's a, it's a big focus of luta. This, this shift to a more sustainable method of building those just to make the problem even more complex, the world is urbanizing at a huge rate, and a city the size of New York, basically, if you take the whole world combined, the amount of building compared to a city the size of New York will have rebuilt every month until around 2060. So it's an enormous challenge. You know, some people rightly see this a big part of that, that challenge to face this or the solution face the challenge is a shift to biomaterials, bio based materials, such as timber, bamboo stone, because concrete steel, they're very carbon intensive. And so this is something we're focusing on with Volusia shift to to biomaterials. Also, a big part of what we do is we work with complex geometry structures. So often structures that are curved in two directions. So if you imagine, say a ball, this is curved in two directions, if you imagine an arch, this is only curved in one. But the two directions don't necessarily have to be the same one. So if you imagine a saddle, one curve is in one way, the other curves in the opposite way. So this is one of the the big, kind of untapped potentials of how we can how engineers going to approach the climate crisis is the power of geometry. And a great voice in this regard is Philip block, Professor Philippe block in at Hans Ulrich, he's really pioneered what's called the war against bending. So elements that are in bending, so for example, like beams and slabs, it's quite an inefficient method of construction or method of, of internal stress, where if things are intention, so being pulled apart, or compression being pushed together, it's much more material efficient. And so, a lot of the of what we design in terms of grid shells, cable nets, these are tension or compression structures, which use a lot less material in comparison to to these bending structures. So, if you look around yourself, you will only see buildings at right angles. Now, this means that everything is in bending more or less or most things are in bending, and this is a really inefficient way to use material. So, this is a big part of what we do in with volute is is harnessing the power of geometry to and using biomaterials to really minimize this carbon footprint.


Dusty Rhodes 24:54

Let me change subject for a few minutes on because you hold the title of Chartered Engineer of the Year with Engineers, Ireland and congratulations on that. Can I ask you? How does it help you to be a chartered engineer specifically?


Eoin Casserly 25:10

Well, it's great because I can work in Ireland. So all projects in Ireland have to have a chartered engineer. And this allows me I've worked on projects in over 20 countries, but never in Ireland, never where I'm from. So being a chartered engineer allows me to, to work in Ireland and hopefully bring some of what I've learned abroad and some of the expertise of gains to Ireland's as well.


Dusty Rhodes 25:40

Well, needless to say, there's more information about going from engineer to chartered engineer on the website at engineers Can I wrap up today on by asking you, I mean, you're obviously hugely experienced person. And with all of that global knowledge that you have, from your experience, what would you like to see change in the world of engineering?


Eoin Casserly 26:04

So I suppose, like I'd mentioned, a shift to biomaterials. So cement production alone, just one part of of concrete is a percent of global greenhouse gas and gas emissions every year. We're running out of materials, from the way we construct a crazy thing that that happens is this the UAE, which is I think 99% Desert, actually import sand from Australia, for concrete,


Dusty Rhodes 26:34

you're kidding me that somebody is selling sand to the Arabs, literally.


Eoin Casserly 26:41

So it's sands from rivers is actually much more useful, as accurate, or sorry for use in countries because of the friction coefficient. But we're going to run out of materials like this are very fast, unless we started using renewable sources, and using less. So using bamboo, which is a really fast growing material has huge, huge potential, especially in the developing world, because it can be grown almost, in almost every climate, a shift away from, from the very carbon intensive materials like like concrete and steel, I would hope this, there'll be a shift to more circularity in construction. So reusing materials, most of the time, something is, is demolished. And basically, it just becomes a waste. It's something new is built from virgin materials in its place, which is, is a incredibly wasteful process. So I would hope there'd be a lot more circularity. And then something this, I also lecture in university, and it's you. And I don't lecture in engineering actually lecture in architecture. And the reason I chose to do this was because I think there needs to be much greater integration between architecture and structural engineering for one thing, because right now, especially in Ireland is quite a vertical process where an architect might design something structural engineer has to make that work. Where I think there's a lot more to be gained from a collaboration and creative tension at the start of a project. It's really where the structural engineer can contribute the most can make a huge saving in terms, especially in terms of, of carbon. I think this creative tension creates something much better than the sum of those parts in the end.


Dusty Rhodes 28:54

And it's like you said earlier, where you have limitations, you have to come up with solutions around that. And actually, often you will end up getting something even better because of those limitations. So exactly. Listen, if you would like to find out more about Eoin Casserly and some of the topics that we spoke about today, you'll find notes, and link details in the description area of the podcast. But for now, Eoin Casserly, founder of VOLUTA, thank you very much for joining us.


Eoin Casserly 29:21

Thanks very much Dusty.


Dusty Rhodes 29:23

If you enjoyed our podcast today, please do share with a friend in the business just tell them to search for Engineers Ireland in their podcast player. The podcast is produced by for Engineers Ireland for advanced episodes, more information on engineering across Ireland, or career development opportunities. There are libraries of information on the website at to check it out. Until next time from myself Dusty Rhodes. Thank you for listening