A British Indian architect and design advocate has been named as the commissioner of the public body overseeing the UK’s environment and heritage.
Nairita Chakraborty has been appointed as the commissioner of Historic England and will start her new role on July 1 for a term of four years until June 2026. She is already a member of Historic England’s advisory committee.
Chakraborty grew up in Delhi and studied at the School of Planning and Architecture before moving to the UK. She has over 16 years of experience in heritage, townscape and design.
“I am really looking forward to working with my colleagues who have inspired and mentored me throughout my career,” said 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 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 the best plausible solutions,” said 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.”
While her scientist father, writer mother and younger brother are based in Delhi, 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.
Recently she 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.
Chakraborty’s appointment was confirmed by the DCMS ministry alongside four others.