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The principles may seem obvious, but it's surprising how many are overlooked in the rush to build, explains ICE Fellow Keith Howells.
In amongst the chatter about how we can 'do' infrastructure better, there's now a growing consensus that we need to improve the way we design our interventions - 'design' in the broader sense of the word, rather than the narrow sense we tend to use as engineers.
But if we're going to 'build back better' (and greener), what might that mean in practice?
Over the course of my career, the following front-end principles have served well to ensure we think through, before we rush in where angels fear to tread.
Clearly, there are many other issues to consider as a project develops, and the above principles may seem obvious to some, and a counsel of perfection to others, but it's surprising how many are overlooked in the rush to build.
There are bound to be compromises, as not all of the aims will be mutually achievable. But it's important that the choices made are articulated and debated. One doesn't have to look too far back in the project history books to recognise examples where:
I leave it to the reader to reflect on the above examples, although sadly there are several which fall into each category.
With Digital Design, Modern Methods of Construction, the Construction Playbook, and other 'new tools', we are building an armoury which should enable us to improve when it comes to delivery.
But as we move forward with the National Infrastructure Strategy, Projects Pipeline, and net-zero and levelling-up agendas, let's hope we can truly 'build back better' (and greener) by paying attention to the front-end principles outlined above.
Guest blogger: Keith Howells is ICE Vice President for Policy and External Affairs.
*ICE welcomes guests to share their views about infrastructure policy issues on the Infrastructure Blog. These views are the views of the individual. If you are interested in writing for the Infrastructure Blog, please email [email protected] ICE reserves the right not to publish articles that have been submitted.