The six key principles of regenerative design for i2C


Regenerative design principles offer a transformative approach that goes beyond traditional notions of sustainability. As Claire Bowles position changes from being i2C’s Sustainability Lead to i2C’s Regenerative Development Lead she shares the importance of this change and outlines the key principles of regenerative design.

“Sustainability doesn’t go far enough. We have all of the technologies and solutions we need. What we need now more than ever is the collective will to be the step change required and to shift the way we work, play, live and relate to each other and this earth.”

1. Regeneration is working in alignment with natural systems to bring life back to places so they can thrive

For some time now designers have been achieving sustainability through designing to energy performance standards and or meeting tick box certifications. We understand that this is not enough to turn the tide on the global issues we face. We need to work together to shift the way we are as people, project teams and communities through the conscious development of our hearts, hands and minds for a future we can all be proud to hand to our children.

2. We design from place which allows us to celebrate its uniqueness and diversity

We believe places are living entities and evolve over time. The unique patterns that can be observed through the layers of a place are that which give it its identity. When we can design in alignment with this uniqueness of place, we are able to harmonise with and co-create for places and communities.

3. We collaborate with a broad stakeholder group to co-design

There is an inherent potential within us all and within all that is alive, that is waiting to come into being. Celebrating and embracing diversity by bringing together wide-ranging groups of stakeholders each playing a valuable role in the evolution of a place brings life to designs. Having the diversity of a place and its ecosystems actively participating in the design process not only brings vitality to a project but it also develops agency and responsibility and cares for the place into the future.

4. We look beyond the building to the wider system in which it sits

Regenerative design shifts our mindsets and practices away from a reductionist, mechanistic worldview and into a living systems view of the world. It embraces the understanding that everything is connected and part of a greater whole. That which impacts in one area will ripple out and impact other areas or systems. It looks beyond the building. Working this way enables us to see the bigger, whole picture – whether that be a watershed, a bioregion or a broader community that our projects are impacting.

5. We advocate for Aboriginal led Designing with Country

Regenerative design builds capacity across project teams, clients, and other project stakeholders to care about the impact they are having through their work and to see themselves as modern stewards for this land who have a responsibility to care for all of life. We must build long lasting relationships with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and co design to bring the aboriginal voice to the fore. To really understand this Country we need to take time to listen and be guided by our Aboriginal leaders, designers, researchers, elders.  

6. We act as stewards for life

We are in a state of flux/transition. We see our younger generations and elders uniting demanding climate action. All too often we are forced to see the world through polarising lenses of ‘ego’ or ‘eco’ through the framing of ‘either/or’ or ‘from/to’ dualisms. Regenerative design allows us to see these not as opposites but as dynamic expressions of life. We need to consider how our practices serve the individual, the wider communities and life.

Image credit: Recreated by Claire Bowles and Joey Leggett using the image from Fairsnape, Martin Brown blog 2021 and who references Glace Sideways blog 2012 as the earliest illustration of the Ego Ego Seva relationship.

Claire Bowles

Claire Bowles

Purpose Director