Infrastructure should “celebrate our nation’s ambition,” says Stirling Prize winner as she throws down new design challenge for the industry

Published: 5 Feb 2020

By: NIC

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Portrait of Sadie Morgan 2017

Professor Sadie Morgan, Chair of the National Infrastructure Design Group, has today thrown down a challenge to everyone involved in major projects to embrace new principles to enhance the quality of the nation’s infrastructure.

The UK’s first ever Design Principles for National Infrastructure, developed by the expert Design Group, seek to embed four key considerations – climate, people, places and value – into the planning and delivery of projects to construct and renew nationally significant infrastructure:

  • Climate – Infrastructure must help set the trajectory for the UK to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner and be capable of adapting to climate change.
  • People – Projects should be human scale, instinctive to use and seek opportunities to improve the quality of life for people who live and work nearby.
  • Places – Schemes should provide a sense of identity for communities, supporting the natural and built environment and enriching ecosystems.
  • Value – Value should be added beyond the main purpose of the infrastructure, solving problems well and achieving multiple benefits.

The publication of the Design Principles comes just a month before the expected publication of the government’s National Infrastructure Strategy and at the start of a decade in which a number of high profile projects are set to be undertaken.

The Design Group believes the legacy of these schemes will be judged on how they succeed in responding creatively to the needs of climate change, the environment and communities.

They are calling for the principles to be adopted in the government’s infrastructure strategy, alongside the National Infrastructure Assessment’s recommendations for all nationally significant projects to have design champions and review panels.

Professor Sadie Morgan said: “We are moving into a seminal decade for our infrastructure and the design of every major project should celebrate our nation’s ambition for flourishing communities and an enriched environment.

“By embedding excellent design into planning and delivery from day one and encouraging everyone in the sector to embrace it as part of their role, we can ensure we leave a proud inheritance that inspires people and helps the UK achieve our climate targets.

“The Design Principles need to be front and centre in the government’s forthcoming National Infrastructure Strategy, so the infrastructure revolution we have been promised is the best that it can be.”

Design Principles for National Infrastructure

The first National Infrastructure Assessment, published by the Commission in July 2018, set out the benefits of effective design, highlighting how embedding it into the culture of projects leads to an outcome that works well and looks good, enhancing the quality of life for people who experience it every day.

The Design Principles for National Infrastructure are the first of their kind and can be applied to all economic infrastructure: digital communications, energy, transport, flood management, water and waste.

The document should be used as a guide by anyone involved in planning, constructing and maintaining national infrastructure.

National Infrastructure Design Group

The National Infrastructure Commission’s Design Group was established in April 2019 and comprises creative and technical design leaders, with experience spanning architecture, landscape, engineering and transport. Its members are:

  • Professor Sadie Morgan OBE (Chair) – Architectural Designer – National Infrastructure Commissioner and Founding Partner of dRMM Architects
  • Isabel Dedring – Lawyer and Management Consultant – Global Transport Leader at Arup
  • Anthony Dewar – Civil Engineer – Professional Head, Buildings and Architecture at Network Rail
  • Clare Donnelly – Architect – Director at Fereday Pollard Architects
  • Andrew Grant – Landscape Architect – Founder and Director of Grant Associates
  • Professor Hanif Kara – Structural Engineer – Co-founder and Design Director of AKT II
  • Madeleine Kessler – Architect – Haptic Architects
  • Lucy Musgrave OBE – Urban Designer – Founding Director of Publica
  • Judith Sykes – Civil Engineer – Director at Expedition Engineering
  • Louise Wyman – Chartered Surveyor and Landscape Architect – Design Lead for the West Midlands Combined Authority

More information about the Design Group is available here.

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