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Design School Lite

Environments 13 May 2014 | 1.23pm

At Arup we run regional Design Schools that are attended by only a select few once a year. Most Arupians yearn to be a part of this weekend trip away to learn, connect and be inspired. The weekend is designed to enhance participant’s design thinking and problem solving abilities and past year’s events have proven highly successful. However, the benefits of the events are limited to only a few.

Motivated by our Sydney Buildings group’s 2-day design schools, we here in Singapore decided to run our very own with the aim to get all the staff involved. You can think of it as Design School “Lite” where we run a 4 hour session on a Tuesday or Thursday afternoon.

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So far it’s been highly successful and flexible enough to run every month. The plan is to get everyone across the entire Singapore office through these mini bursts of design and inspiration regardless of discipline.

At first, we thought it might be quite daunting as Singaporeans can often question the relevance of things.  “Why do we need this? Is this relevant?”. However, this wasn’t the case. We have had great constructive feedback and gained enough positive momentum to grow the Mini Design Schools organically over time.

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Staff in our Singapore office are currently spread across three floors, therefore we use the Design Schools as a way to get to know each other and strengthen our networks. To break the ice, the sessions start off with participants forming groups to undertake some mind boggling exercises. This in itself has helped form closer relationships within the office.

For the next part of the session we invite guest speakers to present to the group. We invite people who have valuable experience to share and those who can inspire and open our minds to new possibilities. Recently we have invited some brilliant Arupians to impart their knowledge, with the likes of Andrew Henry, Mike King, Alma Banuelos and Steve Pennell having shared their passions and stories.

Our long term vision is to get people from all over the external design community in Singapore to be a part of the Design Schools. We have already invited marketing and branding experts and interaction and product designers to joining us in the near future.

We believe a fresh perspective on design is extremely important.

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After being inspired by our guest presenters, participates are ready to put their new creative ideas to the test. We give groups of 3 or 4 people a hypothetical scenario in which they are forced to contemplate their very survival.

If the Earth no longer provided the resources to support human life and you crash landed on a new barren planet – how would you use the power of the collective genius to survive? We’re building a record of the wildest ideas groups come up with, ranging from galactic speed energy generators to breathable and water absorbing threads.

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The sessions are short, sweet and engaging. They encourage experimentation and participates get the opportunity to learn from failure. Our idea is to grow a strong design culture in the Singapore office one Mini Design School at a time. Stay tuned for more…

Gino de-Castro

Tokyo, Japan

“I’m currently a Sustainability Consultant based out of our Asia practices aiming to strengthen environmental, social and economic sustainability within the built environment. I’m extremely curious and passionate about the future and all things related to innovation - getting a big kick out of designing and coming up with awesome ideas that drive real global impact through cities, buildings, products and services.”

View all posts by: Gino de-Castro