Building Foundations: Scott Boote


Today we chat to Scott Boote, one of our Associates, about the challenges of the profession, how he as an engineer can contribute to a greener urban future and his secret skills.

What is the most difficult engineering challenge you’ve overcome at Webb Yates Engineers?

Over the last couple of years, I’ve spent a lot of time, along with my colleagues, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in load-bearing stone. Lennox Gardens Stair, an open-tread post-tensioned stone staircase that looks like a dinosaur spine, and Bodrum Stair, a 320degree helical PT stair in a highly seismic region of Turkey, both stick in my mind as we were solving problems that no-one has ever solved before.

Which Webb Yates Engineers project are you most proud of and why?

If I’m at a party and someone asks me what I do, I always say I helped design the floor of the Wetherspoons Pub at Gatwick airport.

I’m really proud of the job we did on The Kantor Centre of Excellence: Anna Freud Centre. The building uses a system of timber-concrete composite floors which allows the building to be naturally ventilated through exposed thermal mass whilst minimising embodied carbon. It’s a solution that works from a holistic perspective as it contributes to the structural, servicing, architectural, acoustic and fire strategies.

As someone working in engineering, what can you do to contribute to a greener and more sustainable urban future?

The first thing I’ve tried to do is to take responsibility. I now sit on the IStructE sustainability panel and I’m hoping to make more engineers aware of their ability to influence, and their moral duty to reduce carbon emissions and energy use. Most of my friends and family can only make a very small impact; they can recycle their milk bottles and they can cycle to the shops. Becoming a vegan could save 2 tonnes of CO2 per year. But a structural engineer making a 5% reduction on all their projects could be responsible for saving 50 tonnes of CO2 per year! 

What would you be doing if you weren’t an engineer?

Before starting University, I considered becoming an architect. I’ve always been driven by a love of making stuff which is why I find my job so rewarding. As an engineer I can focus on the nitty gritty of how things fit together.

But my long-term aim is to run a smallholding and campsite. I’m planning to build a hobbit house with a round door, a few treehouses and for exhausted city-folk to stay in at over inflated prices.

If you could choose anywhere in the world to live where would that be?

That’s a tough one but I know for sure that it would be by the sea. I spent a year living in Australia and absolutely loved Noosa, but I don’t think I could afford to live there on an Engineer’s salary. Otherwise it would probably be my hometown of Plymouth, Devon’s diamond in the rough.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

At the risk of this sounding like a tinder profile; I like painting, photography and tinkering with my boat.

What are your secret skills?

I have an innate ability to mix up place names that start with the same letter. Be it Hammersmith and Hampstead, or Chichester and Christchurch.