Fundamentals of Nature Based Urban Infrastructure Design and Practical Steps for Delivery


1-day course

CPD Credit: 7 hours, C1/C2

Course Overview

Our society continues to adapt to innovations in technology, long-established patterns disrupted by climate change and our desire to make healthier lifestyle choices, amongst other factors. Our infrastructure at all scales, village, town and city, needs to evolve to take advantage of these changes and engineers have a vital role to play in shaping the landscape and driving this transition.

Employing nature-based solutions improves climatic resilience in the face of increased risk of flooding and extreme temperature. These techniques, working with the prevailing geography can minimise environmental impact, and sensitively applied will strengthen the best qualities of a locality, enhancing amenity and popularity. 

The purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to the concepts, techniques, processes and systems founded on the principles of nature-based solutions. The course will equip practising engineers with an understanding of the opportunities and challenges they can expect to encounter, along with strategies and technical guidance to navigate project stages in line with the statutory NTA work stage structure programme, setting out tactics to manage project risks, provide more robust assessments and deliver a better outcome for both the environment and engineering projects.  

The course includes a series of short targeted workshops and exercises, demonstrating how the techniques apply, allowing participants to explore and test the methods themselves with the support of the tutor.

Course Aim

This course is intended to be an introduction to the design and delivery of urban infrastructure founded on nature based principles. Structured on the Statutory NTA work stages, it will walk through the process and provide a guide on how to identify and respond to conditions as a project typically proceeds. The course will cover the following aspects:

  • Why Urban Infrastructure needs to evolve
  • Identifying, evaluating and understanding the physical environment  
  • Who are the stakeholders and how to engage with them
  • Exploring a brief and generating a concept in response
  • Iteratively developing outline design and binding in the technical response to support the emerging proposals 
  • Tools, techniques and methods to refine proposals to detailed design  
  • Onboarding contractors and construction oversight  
  • Operations and maintenance   
  • Case studies

Course Programme


Morning Session

Introduction to the need and value of Nature Based Urban Infrastructure Design & Delivery  

Project appraisal, stakeholder communication and concept design

Detail design development, contractor engagement and site operations

Afternoon Session

Operation and maintenance

Case Studies – the good and the bad!

Learning Objectives

After the course, the participants should have gained:

  • An understanding of the value and benefits of Nature Based Urban Infrastructure Design & Delivery
  • An overview of how to appraise site conditions to determine options and concepts
  • Insight into key considerations when developing a concept which is then used for consent and statutory assessment purposes 
  • An appreciation of the prevailing Statutory processes and design stages in terms of design detail, content and documentation.
  • Insight into examples of employing these techniques into the design of engineering projects

Who Should Attend?

This course will be of interest to any civil engineer, drainage engineer, roads engineers, local authority officers and contractors working with public realm, architects, landscape architects, urban designers  involved in the design and delivery of projects through the development consent process in the Republic of Ireland, in both private and public sector.  

Trainer Profile

Stephen O’Malley - BE (Hons), FCIHT, FICE, FIHE 

Stephen is Chief Executive of Civic Engineers, he is passionate about urban infrastructure and sets about his work aiming to engineer less; this is about clustering and proximity, reaching first for nature-based solutions and applying these principles with a high degree of emotional intelligence. 

The skills Stephen has developed to engineer healthy, active and attractive urban neighbourhoods are broad – civil, transport, highways, flood risk, drainage, utilities, structures, ground remediation engineering – to name some. Stephen’s fusion and practice of these engineering skills enables the creation of inspirational public spaces that have a positive impact on the environment and enable people to lead healthier and happier lives. This broader, more creative and collaborative approach sets Civic Engineers practice apart and has seen Stephen recognised as an industry expert in his field. With a role as an Architecture & Design Scotland Panellist, Membership of the Academy of Urbanism, a Design Council Associate and a New London Architecture Expert Panel Member for Wellbeing.

Climate sensitivity and its protection has been a founding feature of our Practice since its inception and it is embedded in our vision, our values and our designs. Stephen advocates for this agenda through his roles as the Chair of the Manchester Climate Change Partnership (MCCP) Net Zero New Build Task Force, Ministry of Housing and Local Government (MHCLG) High Streets Task Force Expert and as the Chair of the ICE North West.

Sustainability Badge

Engineers Ireland supports the Sustainable Development Goals. This event contributes to Engineers Ireland's Sustainability Framework.

Please contact the Team for further information on scheduled course dates and In-Company options. You can reach us by phone: 01 665 1305 or email