Fourth IStructE Net-Zero Structural Design wrapped up

Today Will Arnold and I wrapped up our fourth IStructE Net-Zero Structural Design course, this time delivered in-house for a public sector client with a considerable estate portfolio to manage. Having only started delivering this course in January, the material is proving to be particularly versatile, lending itself to a much broader range of built environment professions that just structural engineers.

Here’s some of the feedback we got today:

I feel much more confident in knowing what questions do ask and what my expectations are of others.

Enormous [impact]. Already applying in my work.

Better knowledge to be able to question specialists.

For details of when we are running this course again, check out the link below.

This is one of those courses where it feels like we are really coming to work and making a difference. Thanks to everyone who attended.

Back to face-to-face conceptual design teaching

I am very happy to be teaching once again face-to-face at the Institution of Structural Engineers. Today we ran our first in-person Introduction to Conceptual Design for Structural Engineers in two years. 

In this session we placed a strong focus on developing the confidence to think conceptually, making sure we are bringing wide enough inputs to the process and how to stay motivated to keep coming up with design ideas when other factors – time pressure, distraction, cognitive ease – make it hard to.

A new development since we last ran the course face to face is that Will Arnold and I are now running Net-Zero Structural Design training too. These courses are designed to complement each other and so now there is a now much stronger focus on zero-carbon thinking in the conceptual design course. 

For info on upcoming conceptual design and net-zero design courses check out the More Courses tab.

Constructivist Regenerative Design Lab

What if each construction project left the eco-system richer than before? What if humans could design with nature rather than in spite of it?  What if engineering and construction could restore our human and natural systems?

The answer is in regenerative design. But how do we turn its principles into practice? Through experimentation, reflection and communication.

The Constructivist Regenerative Design Lab is a six-month accelerator programme for leading engineering and construction industry professionals to support each other to apply regenerative principles in practice.

Our mission is to find out what works and communicate it to our organisations and the rest of industry.

Supported by Engineers Without Borders UK and with funding from the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851.



You – a leading engineering or construction industry professional – and 10-15 others who see regenerative design as the future and want to make it reality. You will be the peers who support and constructively challenge each other on the journey.

Real problems – be they design-based, organisational or strategic – regenerative design principles need to solve the real problems we face. These become the raw materials for the lab.

Ecosystems – regenerative design solutions are specific to the ecosystems in which we are working. That eco-system and your connection with it becomes an intrinsic part of the journey. 


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. Together, the outputs from the lab will feed into the creation of the Pattern Book for Regenerative Design in the Built Environment. These are the patterns for thinking about regenerative design that can enable influential designers and construction-industry professionals to shift the system’s rules and interrelationships towards more regenerative outcomes.


Over six online workshops and three one-night residential stays, participants 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

The lab is based on a peer-supported, action-learning approach. We form the lab by helping each other to identify what we want to understand about regenerative design. We each identify a workplace challenge with which we can experiment and support each other in applying principles of regenerative design in practice. Through cycles of action and reflection, we experiment and learn from each other.

Between sessions, groups within the lab meet on an informal basis to check-in on each other’s progress, and you have access to coaching from the facilitators.

I took up engineering in order to practise philosophy

I took up engineering in order to practise philosophy
Ove Arup

Reconnect with natural systems

Our forest lab is located at Hazel Hill Wood, where we will be running three seasonal residential sessions to explore our relationship with natural ecosystems. Hazel Hill is an off-grid education centre situated in 70 acres forest where for 30 years people have come to connect with nature. 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

Application, facilitators, programme and pricing

Application process

Applications are now closed for the Regenerative Design Lab that starts in April 2022. If you are interested in joining the next lab, due to start in early 2023, please drop us a message and we will keep you posted.

The 15 places on the lab are open to leaders and future leaders in engineering and construction. You should be passionate about shifting engineering and construction away from a paradigm of growth and destruction and towards a paradigm of repair and renewal. We welcome applications from industry, academia and supporting organisations. You need to have some body of experience to draw upon and the opportunity to explore and apply regenerative principles in practice.

To assemble a balanced group of participants in the lab, we are asking people interested in joining to go through a simple application process. The closing dates for applications is the 4th March 2022. We will invite the short-listed candidates for a phone interview by mid-March and places will be confirmed by end-March.

Meet the facilitators

Oliver Broadbent

Course Director – Oliver is founder of Constructivist, writer, international speaker on creativity in engineering and an award-winning design teacher.

Ellie Osborne

Co-facilitator – Ellie is a researcher, designer, coach and collaborator who works at the intersection of innovation, systems thinking, future trends and personal growth.

Programme dates

  • April 5th (10am – 12pm) – kick-off online meet
  • April 28th (9am – 12pm) – skills development online workshop
  • May 11th (11am) – 12th (3pm) – Spring Residential at Hazel Hill Wood
  • June 8th – (9am – 12pm) – skills development online workshop
  • July 5th (11am) – 6th (3pm) – Summer Residential at Hazel Hill Wood
  • August – summer break
  • September 14th (9am – 12pm) – skills development online workshop
  • October 4th (9am – 12pm) – skills development online workshop
  • November 1st (11am) – 2nd (3pm) – Autumn Residential at Hazel Hill Wood

We have varied the days of the week on which programme activities are scheduled in order that the schedule does not consistently clash with part-time workers’ days off. 

As well as committing to attending the sessions, participants are expected to spend time during their working week to find ways to apply regenerative principles in practice and to reflect on the impact of their actions.


We are offering places on the course at two different prices to enable participants from different kinds of organisations to pay what they can afford. 

£1,200 – Corporate rate. Intended for small, medium and large organisations who have a commercial interest in developing and contributing to regenerative design practice.

£700 – Self-funding/micro/NGO – Intended for individuals, people from micro organisations and NGOs who may be able to afford less but have just as valuable a contribution to make.

We commit to making at least five places available at the self-funding/micro/NGO rate. 

“Oliver Broadbent is a brilliant and provocative trainer. This is time and money well spent, especially for those in senior management of professional services firms.”

Ben Hickman

Introducing plans for the Constructivist Regenerative Design Learning Lab

In 2022, we plan to launch the Constructivist Regenerative Design Learning Lab. The Learning Lab will be a six month experimental programme for 15-20 individuals that aims to broaden and deepen understanding of regenerative design principles for the built environment sector. This initiative has been made possible through funding from the Royal Commission for the exhibition of 1851. While we firm up the details, this post provides an outline of how we intend the lab to work.

Continue reading “Introducing plans for the Constructivist Regenerative Design Learning Lab”

Making online workshops better for humans

18 months since the pandemic started people are tired of working online. But online work has become a necessary part of modern work. So how do we make sure our online workshops are engaging productive, productive and worthwhile?

That’s what our ‘how to run a great online workshop online workshop‘ is here for. Today we kick off a new series of this delivery programme for one of our partner clients. It’s training that we run for in-house teams to help bring the online workshop experience alive.

This workshop combines so many of the things that motivate us at Constructivist: bring people together, finding the humanity in our work and working with the world as it is to bring about better outcomes.

New alumni group for Training After Declaring

Image of participants in a workshop called Training After Declaring a Climate Emergency

News is we’ve launched an online alumni group for people who have attended our course ‘Training on what to do after declaring a climate emergency’. One of our aims for the course is to create a community of peer support for people who are trying to make organisational change in the climate emergency.

So far two cohorts of trainees have completed the course, and we will be launching our third cohort later in the spring. With the launch of the alumni network we are bringing together these two cohorts so that they can start to provide each other with mutual support.

The training is for people who been handed the task of figuring out what to after their organisation has declared a climate emergency. It is also for people who are trying to figure out how to get their organisations to make that declaration.

Continue reading “New alumni group for Training After Declaring”

Sir Misha Black Award for Innovation in Design Education

Oliver Broadbent winner of the 2020 Sir Misha Black Award for Innovation in Design Education

I am really excited and honoured to share with you the news that I have just been awarded one of the 2020 Sir Misha Black Awards for Innovation in Design Education. The Award commemorates the life and work of design and architect Sir Misha Black. It was created in 1999 to honour the exceptional work of a teacher, team, department, or course within or between educational establishments in the UK.

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Trainee feedback: training on what to do after declaring a climate emergency

We asked members from our first cohort of ‘Training on what to do after declaring a Climate Emergency‘ participants what they thought of the course and why other people should think about going. Here are some of the things they said.

The support of the group alongside discussion of change models and tools was transformative in developing insight on how I can make positive change and resolve to take action. I would highly recommend it to those seeking to develop personal or organisational strategies in response to the climate emergency.

Julia Ratcliffe – Director – Scale Consulting
Continue reading “Trainee feedback: training on what to do after declaring a climate emergency”

Designing your learning process – week one of IDBE

At Constructivist we talk lots about models for learning and also about models for understanding design. In this workshop we are combining the two: thinking about how to design your learning process. It’s my contribution to week one for a new cohort of students on the Cambridge Masters programme Interdisciplinary Design for the Build Environment.

Continue reading “Designing your learning process – week one of IDBE”