by Mark

The EJ team have just returned from our annual retreat. Held in Christchurch, New Zealand, 24 of us ventured across the ditch for four days of exploration as well as taking part in workshops expanding on our theme for the year, human centred design.

At a very human level, the trip was quite sobering as the effect of the 2011 earthquake is still very apparent in the city. Vacant blocks of land turned into ad hoc car parks and reinforcing projecting from remnants of buildings was stark evidence of the disaster. A graphic reminder that will be hard to ‘un-see‘ as we consider the responsibility architects have to design in context – and work with nature.

Living together for four days can test the best of relationships and I was proud to see our values lived out with the respect shown to each other as well as our hosts at the various venues. Integrity was evidenced in trust as the logistics of travelling with two dozen people was tested.

Innovation was a common thread in the four workshops. Keiya’s team heightened our sensitivity to the way we see, filtering information but avoiding blind spots. Adam and his group shone a spotlight on empathy testing our ability to ‘read’ situations.  Amber and co. challenged how we respond to others feelings while Lucia’s team closed the workshops with an exercise to test how we ask the right questions.

The contribution from each and every one of the team made the retreat a huge success. It was a chance to get to know each other a little better and share experiences that will stay with us for a long time. The lessons and insights gained from the well-crafted workshops will help us collaborate with each other and our consultants with greater sensitivity; be even more considered in the designs we produce; and make stronger connections to the wider community.

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