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Design champions sought for National Infrastructure Commission group

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The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has begun its hunt for design champions to join a new, influential expert group 

NIC commissioner Sadie Morgan, who will chair the design group, said the five-strong panel would help shape how the nation’s ‘infrastructure is planned and delivered’ and will make the case for design experts to get ‘a seat at the table at every step in a project’s lifecycle’.

The group was set up following recommendations in the UK’s first National Infrastructure Assessment, published last year by the NIC, which called for effective design to be ‘embedded’ into the culture of planning and delivering major aviation, rail, road and energy projects.

A key recommendation in the assessment is that all nationally significant infrastructure projects, as well as those backed through hybrid parliamentary bills, ‘should have a board-level design champion’.

Applicants are sought with backgrounds in architecture, ecology, engineering and sustainability.

Once appointed, the group will also carry out research into the ‘added value that good design can bring’ which could be developed into principles that could be rolled out to all significant infrastructure schemes.

The group’s key responsibilities would be:

  • To champion design quality in the nation’s infrastructure
  • To research and examine the added value design can bring to infrastructure
  • To put in place measures to support the introduction of board level design champions for major projects
  • To develop design principles for publication by the commission
  • To hold discussions with and publish advice for projects’ design panels

Morgan, who is also a founding partner of the Stirling Prize-winning architecture practice dRMM, 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.’

She added: ‘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 NIC gives independent advice to the government on the best way to meet the country’s long-term infrastructure needs and the recent assessment document outlined a fully-costed and ambitious vision looking at a range of sectors as far ahead as 2050.

The new design group will meet formally four times a year.

To apply, download the candidate pack and submit your application by 5pm on Friday 15 March 2019. 

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