07 - 09 March 2023 | ExCeL, London

07 - 09 March 2023
ExCeL, London

Do we need a below-ground national design guide?

03 March / 10.15 - 11.00

Much of the ‘placemaking’ making and working infrastructure that creates value above ground – integrating trees, SuDS or water sensitive urban design for surface water management, utilities and critical service delivery and more – depends on how we manage the spaces below ground. Our design and management of the ‘underworld’ to date has not been impressive – we suffer from too much poor surface water management particularly as heavy rain events increase with climate change,  road closures for utilities access, confusion about utility locations, barriers to planting trees which are a critical element in the need to reduce urban heat during our increasingly hot summers as well as providing corridors for increased biodiversity…and more. This session will look at how a ‘national design guide’ for below-ground could improve the situation for the future and what changes to legislation and regulation would be needed to achieve this necessary change. 

A vital topic for all engaged in working on places, buildings and environments for people and nature.

Curated by

Panel overview:


Robert Huxford, Director, Urban Design Group

How we got here – lessons from the past.

Robert Huxford, Director, Urban Design Group

Do we know what lies below the ground surface?

Nicole Metje, Professor of Infrastructure Monitoring, University of Birmingham

Trees as infrastructure: an asset, not a liability

Jim Smith, Urban Forestry Advisor, Forestry Commission

The below ground national model design code to deliver above ground ambition

Katja Stille, Director, Tibbalds and Chair, Urban Design Group

Chair & speaker panel

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