BCO Annual Conference 2019 – Latest

BCO Annual Conference 2019


BCO Annual Conference 2019

We were delighted to attend this year’s BCO conference and be a part of the work-life debate and the of role of great places to sustain a healthy balance.

This year’s theme was 'Arbejdsglæde' - a Danish word that combines 'arbejde', meaning work, and 'glæde', meaning happiness. In a nutshell - 'happiness at work'! And where better to discuss this topic than a city famed for its innovative design, architecture and gastronomy and human scale? We’ve seen Copenhagen being voted the happiest and most liveable city in the world, as well as ranked a “Top Green City”, thanks to its commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2025.

Gary and Andy cycled the 300 miles from Gothenburg to the Danish capital through storm, lighting and sunny spells along the stunning west coast of Sweden, part of the effort to raise £20,000 for MIND – The Mental Health Charity. They were joined by Mark and George at the finish line, who arrived at the conference by more conventional means.

It was a brilliant programme, packed with insights and inspiration. Here is Andy’s take on the conference, let us know your thoughts at news@elliottwood.co.uk or on Twitter and Linkedin!


A little over a week ago myself and 59 other explorers were cycling through Scandinavia. The provision for cycling and cyclists was amazing, dedicated roads or roads with billiard table smoothness and polite drivers. The UK a marked contrast. Arriving in Copenhagen for the BCO conference the contrast grew. Infrastructure, buildings, cleanliness all seemed much better, and the people were genuinely happy for it.

The conference plenary sessions occupied the interesting fringe of construction and life. Anne Skovbro spoke passionately about her city, a beautiful sustainable city where it’s easy to live a sustainable life. Bjarke Ingels rattled through his inspiring catalogue of global intervention, reminding everyone to think and get the diagram right. Style over substance? Only time will tell, and who would want to bid against such an accomplished interesting orator. His own house project an essay in reuse, BIG style of course, take an old car ferry and convert it into a dwelling. Why not in a city dominated by water!

Just as design threatened to take over proceedings a sprinkling of politics, courtesy of William Hague and Guy Verhofstadt. What is going on in the UK? William Hague really concerned with the huge polarisation of politics and the compete evacuation of the middle ground. Guy’s Euro view, absolute madness!, “You (The UK) had the best of both, in it, yet not really, and you received a huge rebate”. We were also reminded of a pre-Brexit ballot from Amsterdam in 2016, where BCO delegates almost unanimously agreed to remain. So whilst the odd cohort of largely male oldish construction professionals get it, the majority of the UK don’t.

Time for more of a design focus and a boat trip along the river, an essay in how to use a river and the immediate environs Copenhagen way. People everywhere! Swimming, bathing, living and enjoying the city. Does anyone live in the apartments, do you need to ask? To end the day, a tour of Henning Larsen’s offices and the perfect antidote to Bjarke and BIG. They started with their bees and how they made them think about what they do, so they tracked and monitored the gardens and parks they collect pollen from. They all seem to be thriving, and when asked didn’t see the need to be in London.

The BCO 2019 Conference, like all BCO conferences, was thought provoking and inspiring with an insight into different cities and their cultures. It’s so much more than the workplace and its specification. It is work, live and play! Times are changing so fast, powered by globalisation, population growth and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In the face of such potential disruption and opportunity, it is perhaps time for the BCO to have a paradigm shift. Yes BCO is great, but it can be so much better, more diverse, younger and agile.