UK infrastructure delivery: an interview with Riette Oosthuizen, HTA Design LLP

A video interview with Riette Oosthuizen, Partner at HTA Design LLP on the delivery of UK infrastructure. Topics include aspirational housing projects and the importance of academic institutions.

25 July 2017

As part of a series of video interviews with industry leaders working in the infrastructure sector, we interviewed Riëtte Oosthuizen, Partner at HTA Design LLP, an interdisciplinary design consultancy.

Riëtte discusses infrastructure delivery from the perspective of housing. Listen to what she says in this video.

Video transcript

Which project do you wish you had worked on and why? (0:07 – 0:40)

A project that I wished I was able to work on going back in history would be Neave Brown and Alexander road. I think it's a great example of aspirational housing: really thinking through how people might live, how people would like to have their children play, how the inside of an actual unit could be delivered in an aspirational way. I think with the London housing SVG it's really good that we have those rules but sometimes following those rules you can have really badly laid out residential properties.

Working with residents right from the beginning of housing projects (0:40 – 1:10)

It's very difficult to please everyone when you deliver housing. People have very different views about what would be good housing, what is good design... these are all very subjective matters.

I agree that sometimes we talk to residents too late and I think there is a real opportunity of working with people right from the beginning but working with them by giving them adequate amounts of information around the constraints and I think that's where a lot of projects fall down and where people get unhappy.

We don't traditionally think of housing as infrastructure (1:10 – 1:58)

We don't traditionally think of housing as infrastructure because when we think about infrastructure people think about roads and bridges and huge infrastructure in form of gas and electricity. Housing is a very important form of infrastructure.

From my point of view in the world that I work I think the current regime of CIL isn't necessarily helping residents whose lives are impacted by development. Traditionally section 106 which didn't work that well but the benefit of that was that people could see the real infrastructure being delivered on the project itself and those two aspects have been removed and I think there's a missed opportunity in that although CIL will be revisited.

The importance of keeping links with academic institutions (1:58 – 2:33)

It's very important to keep the links of academic institutions, particularly in promoting research on understanding the impact of our work. As a practice we make a point of growing our links with academic institutions.

Another angle on this is the ability to work across different disciplines which are increasingly being seen as very important and for example University of Westminster has just started a course designing cities which is very much about different disciplines working effectively together, more effectively together, and not in silos to deliver better places.

What project do you admire? (2:33 – 2:56)

A project that I very much admire is the delivery of Almere in the Netherlands – a huge custom-built project – because it's brave because there's a level of uncertainty around that. I think in the UK we are very adverse to uncertainty even if we can set very clear three dimensional rules how design could happen so I think that's a great and very brave project.


For more perspectives on infrastructure, read our industry report featuring 13 in-depth interviews with industry leaders and key decision makers in the infrastructure sector.

UK infrastructure delivery: an interview with Riette Oosthuizen, HTA Design LLP

It's very difficult to please everyone when you deliver housing. People have very different views about what would be good housing, what is good design... these are all very subjective matters.
Riette Oosthuizen, Partner, HTA Design LLP

How can we improve the delivery of UK infrastructure?

How can we improve the delivery of UK infrastructure?

Views from industry leaders and key decision makers, along with survey results from 1,651 members of the general public.
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