The Group exists to inspire, promote and champion design excellence in all nationally significant projects.
The National Infrastructure Commission’s Design Group was established in 2019 to inspire renewed ambition for the quality of the UK’s infrastructure.
The Design Group’s mission is to inspire, promote and champion design excellence in all nationally significant infrastructure projects. This approach produces infrastructure which has social value and responds creatively to the needs of people, places and the environment.
We believe design processes help convene and engage people, to ensure new infrastructure improves quality of life across our communities and enhances the UK’s natural and built environment.
Having diverse professionals in the Design Group means we see and experience the world differently, though we are united by our shared belief in the transformative power of great design.
Design Group members
A team of creative and technical design leaders, with experience spanning architecture, landscape, engineering and transport.
Professor Sadie Morgan OBE
Design Group Chair; Founding Partner of dRMM Architects
This is a biography for Professor Sadie Morgan OBE
Sadie Morgan is a founding director of leading architectural practice dRMM, alongside Alex de Rijke and Philip Marsh. The studio is recognised for creating innovative, high quality and socially useful architecture. dRMM’s recent high-profile projects include Hastings Pier, Trafalgar Place at Elephant & Castle, Maggie’s Oldham and Faraday House at the Battersea Power Station.
As well as being a Commissioner, Sadie chairs the Independent Design Panel for High Speed Two. Sadie was appointed a Mayor’s design advocate for the Greater London Authority and non-executive director of the Major Project Association in 2017. In 2019 she was appointed to the board of Homes England.
Sadie regularly lectures internationally on the work of dRMM and the importance of infrastructure which connects back to people and place. In 2013 she became the youngest president of the Architectural Association, and in 2016 she was appointed professor at the University of Westminster and awarded an honorary doctorate from London South Bank University. In 2017 she was named New Londoner of the Year at the New London Awards for her work championing the importance of design at the highest political level. In 2020 she was awarded an OBE in the new years honours list and was awarded a fellowship from the Royal Institute of British Architects.
Civil Engineer – Professional Head, Buildings and Architecture at Network Rail
This is a biography for Anthony Dewar
As Professional Head, Buildings and Architecture, Anthony is responsible for Network Rail’s (NR’s) national standards, policies and international benchmarking for all Network Rail’s built environment assets. Since his appointment, he has led on elevating the importance of design within rail infrastructure and his notable achievements include forming the Network Rail (NR) independent design panel, development of NR design principles and reinvigorating the NR design approach via design competitions with RIBA and RSA Student Design.
Prior to his appointment as Professional Head he led a team responsible for the maintenance and renewal of all railway built environment assets into London Liverpool Street and Fenchurch Street Station with a budget responsibility of £230m.
An experienced Civil Engineer and design professional, Anthony has almost 20 years of industry experience and has spent his career in a number of private sector bodies including working as a consultant for Jacobs Babtie, Louis Berger Inc and Railtrack; as well as a number of public sector bodies including Network Rail and Network Rail (High Speed) where he was the Head of Civil Engineering and Environment on High Speed 1.
Anthony is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Royal Society of Arts.
Architect – Director at Fereday Pollard Architects
This is a biography for Clare Donnelly
Clare Donnelly is a Director at Fereday Pollard Architects and leads their work on large scale, nationally significant transport and infrastructure schemes. With over 15 years’ experience working at all stages of project development from pre-planning to delivery Clare has been embedded within project teams to develop sophisticated cross-discipline working relationships to deliver world-class projects from Crossrail to Tideway.
Clare is currently Lead Architect and Client Design Advisor for London’s ‘Super Sewer’ – the Thames Tideway, the biggest infrastructure project ever undertaken by the UK water industry and has championed high quality design and excellence on all architectural and landscape elements from initial design concepts, through the DCO stage and to delivery.
Clare also leads the architecture and landscape architecture team working for Highways England to deliver Lower Thames Crossing, the largest road project since the M25 and what will be the UK’s longest road tunnel linking Kent to Essex.
Landscape Architect – Founder and Director of Grant Associates
This is a biography for Andrew Grant
Andrew is a Landscape Architect whose work explores the connection between people and nature. He started his company, Grant Associates, in 1997 which has grown into an international design studio with offices in Bath and Singapore. In 2012 he was awarded the title of RSA Royal Designer for Industry in recognition of his pioneering global work in landscape architecture such as the multi award winning Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. He is a Visiting Professor at the University of Sheffield, and an Honorary Fellow of RIBA. Based in the city of Bath he is Chair of the Bathscape Landscape Partnership and a member of the Bath World Heritage Site Advisory Board.
Professor Hanif Kara OBE
Structural Engineer – Co-founder and Design Director of AKT II
This is a biography for Professor Hanif Kara OBE
Professor Hanif Kara is co-founder and Design Director of AKT II, a design-led structural and civil engineering firm based in London. Hanif has gained international standing in the field of the built environment, through practice, pioneering research and education in interdisciplinary design. His work is widely published and currently he is Professor in Practice of Architectural Technology at Harvard GSD. He was also Professor of Architectural Technology at KTH Stockholm 2008 to 2012.
Hanif has led the practice in being associated with the most innovative construction projects winning over 350 design awards over the last two decades, including the Stirling Prize on three occasions, most recently in 2018 for Bloomberg’s new London headquarters, which was recognised as the UK’s best new building – a project also accredited as the most sustainable office building in the world. His globally recognised projects include Masdar Institute (Abu Dhabi), the Francis Crick Institute (London), numerous projects at the King’s Cross development, the Olympic Park (London), Heydar Aliyev Centre (Baku) and a number of residential towers including One Park Drive in London’s iconic Canary Wharf.
Hanif was the first structural engineer to be appointed Commissioner for CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment), the first engineer to be appointed to the steering committee for the highly regarded international AKAA (Aga Khan Award for Architecture) since 2015, as well as being appointed as the international engineering ambassador for ACE (Association of Consulting Engineers) in 2011. He was formerly a member of the National Infrastructure Commission’s Design Task Force and Expert Advisory Group and is a member of the HS2 design review panel; raising the profile of design in both the construction industry and the wider community.
Hanif’s particular ‘design-led’ approach and interest in innovative forms, historical structures and material uses, prefabrication, sustainable construction and complex analysis methods, have allowed him to work at the forefront of the many challenges faced by the built environment and he is widely recognised in the industry. He is a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the Institution of Civil and Structural Engineers and an honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of Architects. He was awarded the OBE for services to architecture, engineering and education in the 2022 New Year’s Honours List.
Director – Unscene Architecture
This is a biography for Madeleine Kessler
Madeleine is a chartered architect and founding Director at Unscene Architecture. Trained as both an architect and structural engineer, she is experienced in working with complex urban sites, placing community, craft and placemaking at the heart of design. She is the co-curator of the British Pavilion at the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale where she is exploring how to better open up privatised public space. Previously Madeleine worked at Haworth Tompkins, HHF Architekten, Studio Weave and Haptic Architects, where she was an Associate, on projects ranging from temporary pavilions and theatres to infrastructure and urban design, including Oslo Airport City, Kings Cross W3, Watering Poles and Battersea Arts Centre.
Passionate about promoting a creative understanding of the city, Madeleine served on the inaugural cohort of the National Infrastructure Commission’s Young Professionals Panel. She teaches and lectures at universities that have included the London School of Architecture, Architectural Association and the University of London. In 2020 she was named in the Architects’ Journal 40 under 40, and she was awarded the 2019 RIBA Rising Star Award.
Landscape Architect and Masterplanner - Director of LDA Design
This is a biography for Alister Kratt
Alister is Fellow of the Landscape Institute and is a highly experienced advisor on major infrastructure projects. He led the UK’s first Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) Development Consent Order and has advised on Sizewell C and Hinkley Point C, Swansea and Cardiff tidal lagoons, Heathrow, major offshore wind farms and solar projects, and deep sea container ports (including the expansion of the Port of Felixstowe), and HS2 (including Euston Station).
He is a regular speaker on design and design process and was a TEDx Whitehall Series speaker on infrastructure legacy at the invitation of the Royal Society. He is a recognised expert witness and advisor to both the Design Council and the Design Commission for Wales, and was lead author of best practice guidance for the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IMEA) on integrated design and the process of Environmental Impact Assessment.
Director of Design - London Legacy Development Corporation
This is a biography for Peter Maxwell
At the London Legacy Development Corporate Peter acts as the design client for all architecture, masterplanning and public realm projects within the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. This includes the development of 5000 homes; East Bank, a new 60,000m2 cultural and education district; and developing the long term future of Stratford Station. He has experience leading, and championing, the implementation of design-led major projects in the UK, Middle East and New Zealand.
Currently, Peter is a non-executive director for Lampton Homes, London Borough of Hounslow’s wholly owned housing company. He is the Chair of the Quality Review Panels for Harlow and Gilston Garden Town & Epping Forest District Council, and is also a HS2 panel member and Design Council Expert. He is a chartered architect, town planner and urban designer.
Civil Engineer – Director at Expedition Engineering
This is a biography for Judith Sykes
Judith is a highly experienced civil engineer with a background in major infrastructure projects including the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, Heathrow Terminal 5, and the London 2012 Olympic Park.
Judith is a Director at Expedition Engineering where she is responsible for the practice infrastructure and sustainability planning projects. She is currently leading the delivery of infrastructure strategies for a number of mixed use regeneration projects including Southall Waterside and establishing a community energy company as part of Hackney’s regeneration of Woodberry Down.
As a past Commissioner for Milton Keynes 2050, Judith championed a vision for sustainable and inclusive growth. She is part of the winning VeloCity team for the NIC Oxford to Cambridge Ideas Competition and author of the NIC report on the Value of Design in Infrastructure. A fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Royal Academy of Engineering, Judith is currently leading research into how the infrastructure sector is delivering on its social value commitments.
Chartered Surveyor and Landscape Architect
This is a biography for Louise Wyman
A Chartered Surveyor and Landscape Architect, Louise is experienced at working with the public and private sector to deliver award winning projects that promote design excellence in the built environment. Louise champions diversity, inclusion and skills building in the construction sector. She is an Ambassador for the Design Council and for Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design supporting the exchange of planning, design and development innovation between academia and industry.
Louise lectures internationally on urban development and the importance of optimizing ecological systems in the delivery of major infrastructure projects. She’s represented the Department for International Trade in South America and Europe and works with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and UN Habitat on the Global Future Cities Programme.
Louise was the Strategic Director of Growth & Development at Manchester City Council until May 2021, overseeing investment and development across Manchester and with responsibility for urban development, planning, housing strategy, skills building and inclusive growth.
Previously, Louise led the Design & Inclusive Growth agenda at West Midlands Combined Authority and as Director of Strategy & Engagement at Homes England, was part of the team that established the Government’s housing agency.
Louise has led urban renewal projects in the USA and Central Europe and was a member of the Planning Committee for London Legacy Development Corporation with responsibility for developing London’s 2012 Olympic Park.
Guidance for embedding good design at every stage of infrastructure projects.
In February 2020, the Design Group published its Design Principles for National Infrastructure. This followed a recommendation made in the National Infrastructure Assessment.
These four principles – climate, people, places and value – aim to guide the planning and delivery of future major infrastructure projects in the UK.
The principles build on the work of the Design Task Force established in the run up to the first National Infrastructure Assessment, which commissioned research on how such principles might be developed, sector attitudes to design, and a portfolio of examples demonstrating the value of design.
In the four videos below, members of the Design Group and contributors involved in infrastructure design discuss four case study projects, each of which exemplifies one of the four National Infrastructure Design Principles.
Letter to Planning Minister from Design Group Chair: Design excellence & National Policy Statements
Commission Design Group Chair Sadie Morgan has written to Lucy Frazer, the Minister of State for Housing and Planning at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, setting out the value of including clear guidance on the value of design in all of the National Policy Statements which set the strategic priorities for the...
What makes good design? Commission’s Principles help frame civil engineers’ approach
The National Infrastructure Commission’s Design Group has collaborated with the Institution of Civil Engineers on a major report examining the barriers to embedding good design at every stage of infrastructure projects. In September 2020, the ICE, in collaboration with the Commission’s Design Group, surveyed ICE members to establish how relevant they believed the Commission’s four...
Commission response to government’s National Infrastructure Strategy
Alongside today’s Spending Review, the government has published a National Infrastructure Strategy and a detailed response to the National Infrastructure Commission’s landmark Assessment published in 2018. Sir John Armitt, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, said: “Publication of the UK’s first ever National Infrastructure Strategy is an important moment, given the vital role infrastructure can...