What if our work actually made the world better?

…not just in the places create, but in all the places our work affects. What if, as commissioners, designers, constructors and operators of the built environment, rather than causing ecological destruction, our work contributed to the healing our communities and ecosystems?

If you work in the built-environment sector, and want to re-imagine how your work could be a genuine force for good, then our work is for you.

We are Constructivist. We design and deliver training for engineers and other humans who are bravely shaping a new construction industry in the face of the climate and ecological emergency – one that aims to create thriving in its wake.

Pattern book for regenerative design

Recent posts

  • How to Have Ideas: Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There

    How to Have Ideas: Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There

    Last week, we were at the Institution of Structural Engineers delivering our ‘How to Have Ideas’ workshop to graduate engineers from Ridge Consulting. Creative thinking is often the gap in the formal education and training of engineers. Yet, in the context of the climate emergency and a rapidly changing economy, creative thinking is crucial for…

    Read more

  • Buying Bags of Kaleidoscopes: reflecting on how far ideas in teaching can travel

    Buying Bags of Kaleidoscopes: reflecting on how far ideas in teaching can travel

    Today, Oliver concluded his series of six workshops as part of the Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment (IDBE) Masters program in Cambridge. In this final session, participants reviewed the material covered over the last five sessions, spread out over two years, and set objectives for their continued professional growth.

    Read more

  • The Pattern Book – a new collaborative project in regenerative thinking

    The Pattern Book – a new collaborative project in regenerative thinking

    Earlier this month, we unveiled the Pattern Book project, an innovative workbook designed to guide professionals in the built environment towards regenerative design principles.  The Pattern Book is the next evolution in the development of the Regenerative Design Lab. New patterns for the future The Pattern Book aims to be an emergent, collaborative resource, offering…

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Our philosophy

We are called Constructivist after the educational theory that says learners learn by mapping new knowledge to what they already understand. With this philosophy as our starting point, we design training that is:

  • Inspirational – when learners are inspired the possibilities are endless
  • Problem-based – in which engineers develop the ability to identify and solve their own problems
  • Focused on building creativity skills – providing a systematic approach for engineers to build their creativity
  • Action-based – paying particular attention to how new skills are built in daily workflows.

Stay in touch

Sign up to Oliver’s mailing list for a heads up on any Constructivist news.

Publications

The Regenerative Structural Engineer

By Oliver Broadbent and James Norman. Published by the Institution of Structural Engineers, London, 2024.

Available in print and online from the IStructE website.

conceptual design of buildings

Conceptual Design of Buildings : how to have ideas

Oliver wrote Chapter 2 on how to have ideas in the Conceptual Design of Buildings, edited by James Norman and published by the Institution of Structural Engineers, London, 2020.

Available in print and online from the IStructE website.

Regenerative Design Lab

The aim of the Constructivist Regenerative Design Lab is to enable the transition to a regenerative built environment. We do this by taking groups of leaders and future leaders on a six-month programme exploring the principle of regenerative design and experimenting with putting these principles in practice. Together we create a learning experience that is explorative and transformative: building a community of regenerative change-makers and giving them the tools to make change

We ran our first cohort in 2022; we are now taking applications for cohort 4 which will run from Autumn 2024 to Spring 2025; and we will shortly be announcing details of a 5th cohort.

Upcoming cohorts

Cohort 4 delivered in partnership with Chatham House Sustainability Accelerator we will explore creating policy that delivers regenerative design. Runs Sept. 2024 to May 2025. Applications close 30th June.

We will shortly be announcing details of a 5th cohort, also running from Spring to Autumn 2025. This cohort will focus on exploring regenerative design within a project context.

Previous cohorts

Cohort 3 of the Regenerative Design Lab posing for a group photo at Hazel Hill Wood

Our third cohort of the Lab explored the intersection of policy and regenerative design, and started to ask how can policy unlock the potential of regenerative design. Look out for our final report, coming in Summer 2024.

Cohort 2 ran from April to November 2023. With our second cohort we developed and tested our lab methodology and toolkit for explaining key principles in regenerative design. Read about these approaches in our Lab 2 report

Our pilot cohort ran from April to November 2022. 19 leaders and future leaders from engineering and construction began our exploration of regenerative design and what it would mean to put these ideas into practice.

Method

Over 8 months, five online workshops and three over-night residential stays, participants of a Regenerative Design Lab programme will:

  • unpack the principles of regenerative design.
  • experiment through application of principles in the workplace
  • explore application of regenerative practice in their own lives
  • reflect on the impact of this action on their design work

Regenerative Design Lab Process

Our programmes are rooted in peer-support and practical action-learning, blended with expert facilitation and coaching. In our workshops and residential stays you’ll dive deeper, connect with your peers and reflect and apply learnings to a personal or professional inquiry. 

At the start of the journey we’ll uncover a foundational understanding of regenerative design and its principles together. You’ll also identify a live, workplace challenge or project as a field for experimentation and practice for the 8 months. Through cycles of action and reflection you’ll cross-pollinate ideas, discover new behaviours, and grow your resilience as you support each other to apply principles of regenerative design in practice. 

I took up engineering in order
to practise philosophy

Ove Arup

Inputs

Participants – you will be part of a group of leading engineering or construction industry professionals who see regenerative design as the future and want to make it reality. Together, you will become a peer-group that support and constructively challenge each other throughout the journey.

Live projects – each member of the cohort will bring a live challenge or project to the lab. Be it design-based, site-based, organisational or strategic, you will explore how regenerative design principles can apply to your work, while developing your own regenerative practice.

Ecosystems – regenerative design solutions are specific to the ecosystems in which we are working. That ecosystem and your connection with it becomes an intrinsic part of the journey. To further embed ‘place’ into our programmes we return three times to Hazel Hill Wood, near Salisbury. Hazel Hill Wood is a hearth for our group, and a place to explore our relationship with living ecosystems.

Outputs

Individuals will be supported on a personal development journey, increasing their awareness and skill in regenerative design practice. They will leave with a toolkit of approaches and hopefully a transformed relationship with the ecosystem they are part of.

Organisations will benefit from a key member of their team introducing innovative regenerative design practice into their projects. The Lab also aims to provide organisations with an opportunity to fulfil their regenerative design practice commitments.

Industry will benefit from the shared results of these experiments in regenerative design practice. The understanding we gain from this, and subsequent Lab programmes, will feed into teaching resources and briefing tools that will be shared via the Regenerative Design Lab website for use by industry and academia.

Regenerative Design Lab - a reflective session during one of our residential stays at Hazel Hill Wood.
Regenerative Design Lab residential workshop at Hazel Hill Wood

Reconnect with living systems

As part of each programme we hold three residential sessions at Hazel Hill Wood to explore our relationship with living ecosystems. Hazel Hill is a woodland retreat centre where people come to learn and heal through contact with the living world. It combines indoor workshop space and accommodation with access to a thriving forest with a range of ecosystems to explore.

We will take an experimental approach and observe, experiment, measure and learn from these complex natural systems. Participants will engage in a transformative process to shift perspectives away from believing we are separate from the natural world.

When we can think as part of a system, we can better self-regulate to thrive within the limits of that system’.

Looby Macnamara

Meet the Regenerative Design Lab facilitators

Oliver Broadbent

Co-leader.

Oliver is 1851 Fellow in Regenerative Design and founder of Constructivist. He is a writer, international speaker on creativity in engineering and an award-winning design teacher.

Ellie Osborne

Co-leader.

Ellie is a facilitator, designer, researcher, coach and collaborator who works at the intersection of innovation, systems thinking, future trends and learning design.

With gratitude…

We are grateful to an array of friends, partners and allies that have made The Regenerative Design Lab possible.

The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 support the Regenerative Design Lab through their Fellowship in Regenerative Design

Royal Commission 1851

The design and development of the Regenerative Design Lab is funded through the support of the Royal Commission for the Great Exhibition of 1851.

Engineers without Borders UK

The development and delivery of the Regenerative Design lab is supported by Engineers Without Borders UK

Hazel Hill Wood

We are grateful to the team at Hazel Hill Wood who create such a creative and inspirational environment for our residential sessions.