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This month saw us hold our Annual Conference, converting this from the traditional physical setting to a digital platform. We were delighted the day was a fantastic success and if you’d like to know more about this important day in our practice please read on!

Why did we decide to hold the Conference digitally?

The Threesixty Conference is an important annual opportunity to get all staff together in an environment outside of our Glasgow and Inverness Studios. Usually held in a beautiful Scottish countryside location we pack the day with a mixture of informal presentations, a review of the business over the past year, strategic updates, design activities and team building workshops. This is, of course, topped off with an evening of food, drinks, music and occasional dancing!

It is a key date in the diary for the practice to reset, re-align and re-energise our Vision, gained by a reflection on the past 12 months and sharing in new targets for the coming year. It is also a great way to welcome our new Part 1 year-out students, and at the same time say goodbye to our current Part 1’s who are returning to University.

What did we do on the day?

This year we launched the new Threesixty 2025 Vision: CODE. This has been developed over the past 6 months by working with focus groups, full staff engagement workshops and Director reviews. The new economy that we find ourselves in reinforces the need to refresh our Values and redefine our Vision for the next five years in line with our Core Purpose: Because we Care, we Make Places Better. Our new Vision encapsulates a set of strategic targets under four headings: CareOpennessDesign and Excellence, or CODE for short. We look forward to sharing more about our new Vision in the coming months.

Sharing the day with us were two wonderful speakers: Turner Prize nominated artist, Nathan Coley and Founder of Studio for New RealitiesJeroen Zuidgeest. Nathan took us through some of his recent work and his reflections on an exciting new project in London. He reminded us all to interrogate our working methods; to get back in touch with hand drawing and model making, and not always focus on the ‘God’s View’ plan. His passion and care for each project was evident as well as his determination to focus on the truth even if it comes with a little bit of chaos. Jeroen inspired us all with his progressive studio culture and drive to build a life that you don’t need a holiday from. The insight into his studio’s methodology and perspective when creating a Strategic Plan for complex cities around the world was invaluable. It was fascinating to see their approach covering all scales; from the thousands of mini grass-roots projects required to create meaningful change, to essential large scale urban regeneration projects.

A studio-wide Design Challenge (inspired by the morning’s topics) filled the afternoon. The challenge was to generate a concept statement and diagrams for a High Street Urban Intervention that responds to a social issue exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Peer group teams had 90 minutes to define their concept and we received some insightful and entertaining results; from a political debate whispering gallery; to a ‘real-life dating app’ merry-go-round, to a resource sharing ‘Tunnel of Love’.

Lastly, and true to past years Conferences we filled our evening (and night!) with a bit of fun. A collective 60s-themed Murder Mystery provided the entertainment with an element of team working and, most importantly, a proper laugh at each other’s costumes and some debatable acting skills. Needless to say, by the end of the night nobody managed to identify who was guilty!

How did we manage it?

We made the most of the video conferencing technology we have all become accustomed to over the last six months. We hosted the event on Zoom using breakout rooms and at times used the collaborative whiteboard software Invision for the Design Challenge. We also sent out Murder Mystery party packs with some treats and a bottle of bubbly to help people get into character.

What was the outcome?

For gathering feedback at our Monday Morning Forum there were excellent comments and takeaways, such as:

“We are excited by the new vision and future collaborations.”

“It was affirming to see that our approach is aligned with the two well respected and successful speakers.”

“It was impressive that we held the Conference under the circumstances and it was great to have fun together.”

Additionally our two speakers expressed their enjoyment at being involved in the day. Overall, we are pleased with how it went and hope we can improve on it again next year, only this time with a bit more in-person interaction!