An Invitation to Reflect, to Make

Reflective workshop process (2020)

This is a short story. Short stories are concentrated reflections which give space to the questions, dialogues and encounters influencing our work.

‘An Invitation to Reflect, an Invitation to Make’ was a series of reflective workshops developed by architecture-research duo ISLANDS (Emma Filippides and Benjamin Rea) with NU architectuuratelier between summer 2020 and early 2021.

The process presented an opportunity for the team to discuss the possibility of pursuing open-ended, critical research projects of collective interest within the context of the architecture office. The workshops invited discussion, written and visual contributions from the collaborators of the office through a series of interviews, creative briefs and conversational sessions.

Intuitive encounter

The workshop process began intuitively with a team bike tour across Flanders in September 2020. Over the course of three days, the team visited seven built projects of NU, some long-completed, others still under construction. The visit offered the office’s collaborators to think about the past, present and future of NU and the projects of the office.

After the trip, each collaborator was invited to write and illustrate a ‘postcard from the bike trip’ to express their most impactful lasting impressions of the projects they visited, as well as their thoughts on the collective experience of the team trip.

Reflection through making

The submitted illustrations and texts were printed as postcards, collected together and mailed out to each collaborator during a period when Corona spikes prevented the team from gathering in person.

When viewed and read alongside one another, the individual reflections on the trip were rich and thoughtful considerations of the role and the impact of the architect, the essential qualities of individual projects the team visited, and the sense of the value of the camaraderie felt among the collective.

Later, each collaborator was invited to engage in creative dialogue with a postcard through the production of a small-scale sculpture.

The sculptures were presented as part of an exhibition during which each collaborator was invited to introduce their making process and reflections to the rest of the team. What resulted was a rich dialogue about what a more expansive process might look like within the office, and a definitive sense of each individual’s curiosities and creative interests.

Postcards by Timotheus De Beir, Tim Van Verdegem, sculptures by Lucas Renson, Timotheus De Beir