Regenerative Design Lab

A 6-month action-learning-based and residential program to develop, test and communicate regenerative design practice for the construction and engineering industry. Brought to you by Constructivist and Engineers Without Borders with support from the Royal Commission for the Great Exhibition of 1851.

  • April – November 2022 
  • Monthly webinars, Plus 3x residential sessions at Hazel Hill Wood

Course director: Oliver Broadbent , founder of Constructivist, writer, international speaker on creativity in engineering, award-winning design teacher and performer.

What is regenerative design?

In recent years, regenerative design has emerged as a response to the climate and ecological crisis. The simple definition of a regenerative system is one that can restore its stocks of material and energy. Our economy is the opposite of a regenerative system, based instead on extraction and degradation of the environment on which we all depend. The ambition of regenerative design is to move away from this destructive way of living to one in which humans and nature can thrive within the limits of our ecosystem.

But how does the philosophy of regenerative design apply in practice to the built environment industry and to designers and engineers themselves?

An experimental approach

Designers, the people they design for, the context within which their designs are built and the people that use them are a complex system. From systems theory, we know that we can’t predict and control complex systems, rather we must observe, experiment, measure and learn. If we want to understand regenerative practice then we need to experiment.

The Regenerative Design Lab is an experimental learning programme for engineers and construction professionals to experiment with, develop and learn about regenerative practice. Using peer-supported, action-learning techniques, it provides an environment within which we can learn what happens to our complex system when we start to apply regenerative practice.

A transformative approach

Key to unlocking the potential of regenerative design is shifting the perspective of engineers as separate from to being interconnected with 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. Being more connected with natural systems will also help us think like natural systems, which, after all, have had billions of years to perfect regenerative ways of acting.

The Regenerative Design Lab creates an opportunity to explore our relationship with our ecosystem through its three residential sessions at Hazel Hill Wood. Over six months, the programme aims to have a transformative impact on how participants perceive their connection to the ecosystem within which we want to thrive.

Methods and outcomes

Through the learning lab, participants will develop an initial understanding of the principles of regenerative design and will deepen this understanding through application of these regenerative principles in their workplace. (Participants do not have to be working on a regenerative design project in their workplace for them to be able to apply the principles of regenerative design.) Alongside practise in their workplace, participants will be invited to experiment with regenerative practice in their own lives, and to explore the impact of this action on their design work.

The lab is intended to benefit individuals, organisations and wider industry.

Individuals will go 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 their staff being supported in developing a more regenerative approach to an aspect of their activities. In doing so, the Regenerative Design Lab aims to provide organisations with an opportunity to fulfil their commitments to develop regenerative design practice.

Industry will benefit from the shared results of these experiments in regenerative design practice, which together will start to form an emergent map for others wishing to start on this journey to regenerative design. Combined findings for the lab will be shared through institutions and with university course leaders.

Course Organisation

The Regenerative Design Lab consists of three overnight residential courses interspersed with online workshops. Between these formal sessions, participants are encouraged to meet fortnightly in action learning groups to support their learning. The proposed session dates are as follows:

  • 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