Champions of infrastructure design sought for pioneering new group

Published: 20 Feb 2019

By: NIC

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A view over the Severn Bridge

The National Infrastructure Commission is today launching the recruitment of members for its new Design Group, inviting champions of infrastructure design to play an important role in ensuring this issue is placed at the heart of major projects.

Commissioner Professor Sadie Morgan, who will chair the Group, said those involved in this exciting initiative will make the case for design experts to get, “a seat at the table at every step in a project’s lifecycle,” and shape how infrastructure is planned and delivered.

She called on professionals with backgrounds ranging from the built environment to ecology, and engineering to sustainability, to submit applications to become members.

The Group will also undertake research on the added value that good design can bring, using this to develop principles that could be applied to all major projects.

It follows recommendations in the UK’s first-ever National Infrastructure Assessment, which highlights the benefits of effective design. Embedding this into the culture of planning and delivering projects can lead to better outcomes for communities and improve quality of life.

This approach can also help to break down silos and use creativity across professional specialisms to offer more desirable solutions for the people that use infrastructure. It can support those overseeing projects to add social value, save money, reduce risk and deliver projects in an environmentally-friendly way, creating a legacy that looks good and works well.

National Infrastructure Commissioner, Professor Sadie Morgan, said:

“Putting design at the heart of projects has countless benefits, helping new infrastructure to enhance and enrich the lives of the communities it serves.

“That’s what our Group is there to ensure – that designers have a seat at the table at every step in a project’s lifecycle.

“Whether it’s engineers, architects, designers or ecologists, we’re looking for people who are passionate about good design and have the commitment, energy and enthusiasm needed to be real champions for this cause across the world of infrastructure.”

Set up in 2015, the National Infrastructure Commission offers robust and independent advice to the Government on the best way to meet the country’s long-term infrastructure needs.

Central to the Commission’s work is the UK’s first-ever National Infrastructure Assessment, which looks across a range of sectors and as far ahead as 2050 to provide a fully-costed and ambitious vision.

A key recommendation in the Assessment is that all nationally-significant infrastructure projects, including those authorised through hybrid parliamentary bills, should have a board-level design champion. It also recommends that projects should use a design panel to maximise the value provided by the infrastructure.

To that end, the Commission is looking for up to five professionals with relevant infrastructure and design expertise to become members of this new group, which will meet formally four times a year.

Notes to editors

Details of the National Infrastructure Assessment’s recommendations on design can be found here.

The Group’s responsibilities will include:

  • Championing design quality in the nation’s infrastructure;
  • Undertaking research examining the added value that design can bring to infrastructure;
  • Putting in place measures to support the introduction of board level design champions for major projects;
  • Developing design principles for publication by the Commission; and
  • Convening discussions between and publishing advice for projects’ design panels.

Anyone wishing to apply should download the candidate pack here and submit their application by 5pm on Friday 15 March 2019.

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