A PROFESSOR is interviewing World Trade Center survivors in a bid to influence legislation and make skyscrapers easier to evacuate.

By combining engineering with experiences of those evacuated from the Twin Towers in 2001, Greenwich University professor Ed Galea hopes to revolutionise skyscraper design and save lives.

The 48-year-old, who has dedicated 20 years to understanding how people are evacuated, says designing buildings around people's experiences will make them easier to escape from.

The project began 18 months ago and so far 300 of more than 10,000 surviving evacuees have been interviewed by his team.

Now the Australian-born professor is calling on survivors in south east London to come forward and share their experiences.

So far only two have been interviewed from the UK.

Once the team has conducted 1,000 interviews the information will be used to come up with ways of re-designing building features, including staircases and alarm systems.

Professor Galea said: "Our research is special because we combine psychology and engineering.

"We're interested in the towers because it represents the largest evacuation in recent history.

"All high-rise buildings are designed so you can evacuate a fire floor, and maybe a few floors above or below.

"These buildings are not designed for mass evacuation and we want to make this possible."

So far the research has already given the team some ideas.

He continued: "One of the things we are starting to find from the World Trade Center is fire marshalls played an important role in getting people evacuated.

"The more senior the person is the more likely it is people are going to listen.

"We want to look at staircase design.

"And we are interested in seeing how people coming down the stairs merge with people already on the stairs."

Results of the project, which will end in another 18 months, will be put on the internet so they can be viewed worldwide by engineers, researchers and architects.

Visit wtc-evacuation.com or email wtc@gre.ac.uk