Indian-origin architect Nairita Chakraborty named Commissioner of UK history preservation body

Nairita Chakraborty, an Indian-origin design advocate, is already a member of Historic England’s Advisory Committee and will start her new role as Commissioner from July 1 for a term of four years

June 18, 2022 04:36 pm | Updated 04:36 pm IST - London

Nairita Chakraborty. File

Nairita Chakraborty. File | Photo Credit: Instagram/@rikhichaks

Indian-origin architect and design advocate Nairita Chakraborty has been appointed to the prestigious role of Commissioner of Historic England, the public body championing the country’s historic environment and heritage.

Ms. Chakraborty, who grew up in Delhi and studied at the School of Planning and Architecture before moving to the UK, has over 16 years of experience in heritage, townscape and design.

She is already a member of Historic England’s Advisory Committee and will start her new role as Commissioner from July 1 for a term of four years until June 2026.

“I am really looking forward to working with my colleagues who have inspired and mentored me throughout my career,” said Ms. Chakraborty.

“We are living in times of extreme challenges as well as opportunities and I am hoping to promote the role of heritage as an important resource, one that enhances our cultural identity as well and contributes to a carbon neutral society,” she said.

Restoration of historic buildings

The design advocate has experience in ensuring sustained use of historic buildings whilst delivering large scale regeneration, housing and infrastructure projects.

She has produced significant work on the adaptation and conversion of large and complex listed buildings, as well as town centre, public realm, and conservation area schemes.

Some of her iconic projects in London include Alexandra Palace, Tottenham High Road, Holborn Town Hall as well as work on the Historic Dockyards of Middlesbrough.

As a practitioner, her focus has been on the adaptation and restoration of historic buildings, bringing them back to use within wider regeneration plans.

“My public and private sector experience has given me a unique insight on the planning and conservation practices from both sides of the table, giving me the ability to critically but constructively look at both sides of arguments and offer best plausible solutions,” said Ms. Chakraborty.

“I am hoping to use this experience in supporting the role of Historic England in continually evolving their approach and advocacy for the historic environment,” she said.

Indian roots

While her scientist father, writer mother and younger brother are based in Delhi, Ms. Chakraborty also has extended family in Kolkata and that “deep connection with the city of joy” and its colonial heritage has been her inspiration too.

Travelling was always an important part of my childhood that enabled me to see and experience India's heritage from a young age, ultimately motivating me to a career in this field,” she said.

The young professional recently set up her own practice, Revive and Tailor, which focuses on integrating existing buildings within regeneration proposals innovatively and resourcefully.

She is also engaged with the Havering and Kensington and Chelsea’s Design Review Panels in the UK capital and is a full member of the Royal Town Planners Institute and the Institute of Historic Building Conservation.

Historic England is an executive non-departmental public body sponsored by the UK government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Commission is its governing body which provides expert advice and guidance.

Ms. Chakraborty's appointment was confirmed by the DCMS ministry alongside four others this week.

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