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ICE Strategy Session to challenge engineers’ understanding of ‘good design’

26 August 2020

The ICE Strategy Sessions return on September 8 with a collaboration between the National Infrastructure Commission and ICE, exploring how well civil engineers understand good design.

ICE Strategy Session to challenge engineers’ understanding of ‘good design’
ICE Strategy Sessions with NIC

The Institution of Civil Engineers has teamed up with the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) Design Group for a programme of work to establish civil engineers’ understanding of good design, beginning with a Strategy Session on September 8.

The collaboration is inspired by the group’s Design principles for national infrastructure – launched in February - which describe succinctly what should matter when it comes to design – climate, people, places and value.

Kicking off the collaboration is a Strategy Session which will outline the principles, explore how they sit with civil engineers and debate what is happening in our industry to help or hinder their implementation.

ICE Fellow and Expedition Engineering senior director, Judith Sykes, is a member of the Design Group, and explained the importance of the principles in a recent blog.

“The concept of design doesn’t always feel like a natural fit for engineers – partly because there continues to be a lack of understanding about what it is,” said Judith. “Contrary to popular belief, it’s not solely about aesthetics – it’s about making sure projects work well too. While engineering is inherently a creative process, many of our peers don’t see themselves as designers – but that needs to change.”

The Strategy Session is to be chaired by ICE President Paul Sheffield and features a panel of experts, who are all members of the Design Group.

  • Professor Sadie Morgan OBE, Director of architecture firm drMM and chair of HS2’s independent design panel, will outline the thinking behind the NIC’s design principles.
  • Judith Sykes, Director of Expedition Engineering and ICE Fellow, will discuss the drivers and barriers of successful infrastructure planning and delivery.
  • Andrew Grant, landscape architect and designer of Singapore’s stunning Gardens by the bay, will explain the importance of connecting people with nature and the importance of context.
  • Anthony Dewar, Network Rail’s professional head of buildings and architecture, is to share his views on the rail industry.
  • Professor Hanif Kara, co-founder and design director at AKT II and Professor in Practice of Architectural Technology - Harvard GSD, will be discussing the contentious topic of ‘good’ design.

Mark Hansford, ICE Director of Engineering Knowledge, said: “The NIC’s design principles should be applied to the planning and delivery of all economic infrastructure – in digital communications, energy, transport, flood management, water and waste. But the reality is that they are not.

“This partnership seeks to understand the reality gap between the NIC’s aspirations and the conscious decisions of practicing civil engineers.”

Following the Strategy Session, ICE members will be invited to complete a survey by email, exploring their experience of, and attitudes towards, design in relation to climate, people, places and value. Findings will be presented early next year and will inform the ICE and NIC’s forward programme.

  • Ruby Kitching, head of engineering insight at ICE