An Inquisitive Duck

Systems & Tools 01 September 2015 | 11.39am

The 2015 East Asia Design School was held in Hong Kong across 3 days from 15-17 January. The theme this year was “An Inquisitive Duck” which highlighted the importance of not being contented with everything we have been tought. As such, the objective was to accept that the scientific truth we often rely on is only true until other information that proves otherwise is discovered. We explored further enlightenment by celebrating the art of asking questions and collaborately exploring the answers. Asking, what at first might seem like a silly question proved to generate great creativity and innovative thinking.

Day 1

After a brief self-introduction getting to know everyones favourinte colour, sports team, pet, etc. we attended presentations by Michael Eason and Ingrid Piper who works with psychology and journalism. They both focused on the impact of our behaviour when asking questions, and how we can influence others by the way we communicate.

The presentatons were seperated by a quick ice-breaking game consisting of building innovative mechanishms out of an envelope, balloons, cocktail umbrellas and straws to safely catch eggs being dropped from 3m height.


In the afternoon we embarked on a great team building workshop, running a half-marathon through Cyberport while contesting in the Arup Amazing Race. Clues were given at checkpoints and we were meant to identify historical events like The Silk Road, The French Revolution, etc. Most teams failed miserably, but we later had to act out these historical events in our teams, which brought lots of laughter to the training room. Laughing with each other was a great way to break down the initial barrier.


Day 2

On the second day our guest speaker was Paul Edmiston from the Hong Kong Police Force, who openly discussed the details of the 2014 Hong Kong umbrella Revolution and the difficulties related to asking questions to both protesters and members of his own organisation.


The rest of the day was spent on another team building event where we in teams were tasked with developing a travelling booklet specific to a certain group of people vising a major international city or holiday destination. Again, towards the end of the day we prepared costumes, sung out our sound tracks and re-enacted our story with great enthusiasm.


Day 3

On the last day we attended a presentation by Jennifer Greaves who is a Hong Kong kindergarden teacher. She gave great insights on the complex, deep and meaningful questions she is asked every day by the children and colleagues at work, and the associated importance of carefully considering your audience before providing a response.

We did further team building workshops and presentations on the third day, but we were all reminded that it was our last day and as such there was focus on socialising and networking. We were all from different disciplines and regions which sparked great conversation and new friendships.


The presentations, ice-breakers, group workshops and presentations identified new ways of thinking and approaching the challenges we face. More importantly, getting to know all these fantastic people and expanding the Arup network was invaluable.

Jesper Jensen

Brisbane, Australia

“I am a structural and civil engineer working in Arup's Brisbane office. ”

View all posts by: Jesper Jensen