Dr Juan Hidalgo Medina

Adjunct Senior Fellow

School of Civil Engineering
Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology



Dr Juan P. Hidalgo is a Senior Adjunct Fellow within the School of Civil Engineering (honorary position) and is currently a Fire Safety Engineer at Airbus Operations GmbH.

Juan joined The University of Queensland in 2016 as the first of the three academic appointments in the Centre for Future Timber Structures to lead the research and teaching on the fire safety of engineered timber structures. His background is in fire safety engineering, building systems and timber construction. His research to date has primarily focused on the performance of building materials for sustainable and durable construction exposed to fire conditions. Juan's field of expertise comprises material thermal degradation and flammability, heat transfer, and fire dynamics, highlighting his vast experience in multi-scale fire testing. Juan is actively involved in multiple research projects focused on sustainable construction, such as timber, insulation materials, or composites, and studying the fire dynamics in modern buildings. At present, Juan contributes to supervision and research collaborations on fire safety for the built environment with the Fire Safety Engineering Research Group at UQ.

Juan completed his BEng-MEng in Industrial Engineering at the Universitat Politècnica de València (Spain), a five-year degree equivalent to Mechanical/Civil Engineering in the UK with a final year specialisation with a particular focus on structural engineering. He also attained an MSc in Industrial Construction and Installations at the same University. During his MSc, Juan joined PBD Fire Consultants S.L., a Spanish company specialising in fire safety design for the built environment. He worked for this company for two years as a consulting fire engineer in multiple national and international projects. Following the completion of his MSc in 2011, Juan joined the University of Edinburgh (UK) to pursue his PhD in Fire Safety Engineering sponsored by Rockwool International A/S, which was completed in 2015 with the thesis entitled “Performance-Based Methodology for the Fire Safe Design of Insulation Materials in Energy Efficient Buildings”. He continued his academic career at the University of Edinburgh as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering, being involved in numerous research projects such as the FireComp project, and other projects focused on the fire performance of facades, timber construction, concrete and diverse construction systems.

Previous involvement in Teaching and Learning

During his appointment as academic staff at UQ, Dr Juan P. Hidalgo contributed to the teaching of Civil Engineering Bachelor and Masters programmes, including the BE-ME in Civil and Fire Safety Engineering (EA-accredited) and the MEngSc in Fire Safety Engineering. He was involved in the following courses:

  • Introduction to Fire Safety Engineering (FIRE3700).
  • Fire Engineering Design: Solutions for Implicit Safety (FIRE4610).
  • Fire Dynamics (FIRE7620).
  • Fire Dynamics Laboratory (FIRE7640).
  • Structural Fire Engineering (FIRE7660).
  • Fire Engineering Design: Explicit Quantification of Safety (FIRE7680).
  • Research Thesis (FIRE7500).
  • Design of Timber Structures (CIVL4334).

Research Interests

  • Fire Dynamics in Large, Open-Plan Compartments
    The study of fire dynamics in compartments establishes the basis for the design of fire safety strategies in buildings. Even though the behaviour of compartment fires has largely been studied, the 'compartment fire' framework currently used for design is based on experimentation of cubic compartments of reduced floor area with low ventilation (Regime I fires). At present, open plan floor compartments are the norm in tall and new buildings, thus deeming the current design framework incomplete. I am working on a series of projects focused on modelling and analysing data from recent full-scale fire experimentation in open floor compartments with large ventilation (Regime II fires), which I contributed to developing when I worked at the University of Edinburgh (https://uqfire-news.org/2019/06/05/malveira-fire-test/).
  • Fire Performance of Composite Materials
    I collaborate with the UQ Composites Group in numerous projects aiming at the flammability characterisation and elaboration of fire design frameworks of novel composite materials.
  • Fundamentals of Bushfires
    The study of fire behaviour of bushlands is a research area of relevant need in Australia due to the increasing severity of bushfires. The improvement of risk models for loss prevention requires a fundamental understanding of the behaviour of vegetation under fire conditions. I am working on a couple of small projects aiming at the effect that moisture may play in the flammability of Australian vegetation and the role of convection and radiation in the ignition and flame spread in vegetation.
  • Fire Safety of Engineered Mass Timber and Bamboo Structures
    There is a growing demand from architects, developers and clients to create buildings from engineered timber products. Timber is both aesthetically appealing and environmentally advantageous; however, fire safety considerations are frequently cited as a major constraint on the use of timber within buildings. I contribute to research in this area and have been actively working to provide engineers with the knowledge and understanding required to build safely with timber – at a large scale. One of the highlighted projects under this theme was the project aimed at developing full-scale fire tests of cross-laminated timber compartments. The project was developed under the umbrella of the ARC Future Timber Hub, and enabled the development of unique tests worldwide (https://sites.google.com/view/arc-future-timber-hub-pr14/). Like timber, bamboo as a construction material has many appealing characteristics, ranging from its ability to sequester carbon during growth and store it for the life of the building, its relatively high strength-to-weight ratio, ease of prefabrication, and high aesthetic value. I have contributed to research in this area, working to provide knowledge on the potential of bamboo as a structural material and its fire performance.
  • Fire Safety of Facades and External Cladding
    In the last decades, several tall buildings consisting of innovative external wall systems have been involved in disastrous fire events. The use of new products and systems, including combustible materials as external walls, represents a fire hazard in the built environment. This is essentially due to the lack of understanding and characterisation of the fire performance of these products, as well as methodologies and tools to assess their intrinsic fire hazard. At present many existing buildings have combustible façade systems, for example, including Aluminium Composite Panels made of two aluminium sheets bonded with a low-density plastic core or insulation materials. I was the chief investigator leading the Cladding Materials Library project funded by the Department of Housing and Public Works (https://claddingmaterialslibrary.com/). I led the development of an extensive, publicly-available database of combustible cladding materials based on their flammability through an audit of public buildings in Queensland. This database materialises one of the urgent recommendations established by the Queensland Non-Conforming Building Products Audit Taskforce to guarantee the safety of building occupants and emergency services in buildings with combustible cladding. The database is a crucial tool currently being used by fire engineers in the risk assessment and remediation of thousands of buildings affected by combustible cladding.

Research Impacts

Dr Hidalgo’s main research focus at The University of Queensland has primarily centred on the fire safety of tall buildings and mass timber construction. The research on tall buildings consists of two fundamental aspects: describing the complex fire dynamics in open plan compartments, common of tall buildings, and assessing the external fire spread risk in tall building design due to the use of combustible materials. These are key endeavours to enable the safety of mid and high-rise buildings, supported by his extensive previous contributions in the area of compartment fires and combustible insulation developed throughout his academic career.

With regards to mass timber construction research, since his arrival at UQ, he help lead fire safety research within the Centre for Future Timber Structures and the ARC Future Timber Hub. His expertise in fire safety of timber structures and tall buildings has become instrumental in achieving the main goal of the Hub, which is to enable tall buildings consisting of mass timber structures that are currently inhibited by the unquantifiable fire safety risks. These knowledge gaps are strategically well-aligned with Dr Hidalgo’s expertise.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Edinburgh
  • Masters (Coursework)


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Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

  • Hidalgo, Juan, Gupta, Vinny, Cowlard, Adam, Abecassis-Empis, Cecilia, Majdalani, Agustin H, Maluk, Cristian and Torero, Jose (2020). Edinburgh tall buildings fire tests analysis. University of Edinburgh. (Dataset) doi: 10.7488/ds/2745

  • Gupta, Tristan, Gupta, Vinny, Cowlard, Adam, Abecassis-Empis, Cecilia, Maclean, Jamie, Bartlett, Alastair, Maluk, Cristian, Montalva, Jose, Osorio, Andres, Torero, Jose and Hidalgo, Juan (2020). The Malveira Fire Test. University of Edinburgh. (Dataset) doi: 10.7488/ds/2747

  • Cadena Gomez, Jaime, Gupta, Vinny, Majdalani, Agustin, Hidalgo, Juan and Torero, Jose L. (2020). Uncertainty analysis in the modelling of fully-developed compartment fires using FDS. The University of Queensland. (Dataset) doi: 10.14264/uql.2020.976

  • McLaggan, Martyn S., Hidalgo, Juan P., Osorio, Andres F., Heitzmann, Michael, Carrascal, Jeronimo, Lange, David, Maluk, Cristian and Torero, Jose L. (2019). The Material Library of Cladding Materials. UQ eSpace. (Collection) doi: 10.14264/uql.2019.441

  • Basnayake, Asanka, Medina, Juan Hidalgo, Vandi, Luigi and Heitzmann, Michael (2018). Literature review of natural fibre composite fire properties. CIC1_16-020-004_002. School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering, The University of Queensland.

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

Completed Supervision