Housing pioneers – Peabody’s Dickon Robinson and Ove Arup’s John Miles – named CABE commissioners.

The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment is beefing up its housing expertise by bringing in two new commissioners.

The appointment of Peabody

Trust development director Dickon Robinson and Ove Arup & Partners head of technology John Miles will strengthen the CABE’s knowledge of innovative social housing and prefabrication.

The decision follows criticism from CABE chairman Sir Stuart Lipton and construction minister Nick Raynsford of the quality of urban housing estates.

Raynsford attacked developments of “tawdry little boxes” and Sir Stuart said that housing developers too often use the lowest common denominators as the basis of design.

Sir Stuart, an admirer of the innovative work of the Peabody Trust, welcomed Robinson’s appointment. He said: “Dickon has been at the forefront of instigating good design in social housing.”

It is understood that Robinson’s brief at the CABE will be to drive forward Peabody-style design and innovation across public sector social housing projects.

In a recent speech, Sir Stuart called for the private sector to follow the lead of housing associations such as Peabody, which won the best client award in the 2000 Building Awards.

Robinson, an architect by training, has been at the forefront of technical innovations such as prefabrication and the low-energy design used by Peabody in recent projects.

Last year, the trust completed the UK’s first multistorey housing development to use prefabricated volumetric construction, at Murray Grove, Hackney, east London.

Miles is expected to take up a key role in the CABE’s technology and process committee, one of six planned by the commission.

Originally a car designer, Miles has also championed housing innovation, devising a prefabricated system at Ove Arup. Last year, he approached housebuilders and housing associations to market his industrialised system, which manufactures house components in a similar way to car spare parts.

Miles and Robinson are also expected to work with fellow commissioner Ian Ritchie on his CABE housing working group. The group is looking at research topics that the CABE should be considering in the housing sector.

Robinson and Miles were unavailable for comment.