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Cabal is my word for a way of working together. It is an wholistic space for collaboration with each other and the life streams we are part of. The Cabal ethos rests in the subtle arts of relatedness. For over 20 years, this philosophy has guided my approach to art, design and construction, within very diverse project teams, contexts and mediums.

This ‘deep collaboration’ is an art form of communication and interdependency as we sculpt, weave, design and construct processes for restorative built environments. I treat each creative project is an opportunity to explore with others, finding simple practical tools and processes that we can put into action to help realise our ideals for transformation and regeneration in our communities. Cabal

asks, “what is needed here?” “What are the optimum conditions for wholistic


Cabal is a call to the nourishment of love, life and the restoring of beauty.




Every development and design process is unique, drawing from the particulars of it's people and their place.

The Integrative Design Process gives a basis for designing the unique structuring patterns and pathway needed for each collaborative journey we embark on.

This is a structured approach to project efficiency and quality. The process is one of the key tools we use to achieve deeper collaboration, in a resourceful and cost effective way.

We work together to:
+ clarify the project purpose, principles and design brief
+ identify and harness core competency and core potential, in both people and place
+ design the process of design and intended outcomes
+ nurture the quality of our relationships

Continuous attention on quality relationship in the process, grows an inclusive, cooperative, coherent and synergistic working environment, which is the container for awesomeness and breakthrough outcomes.

Example Integrative Process Tool



+ Early and meaningful partnering with key project communities builds trust and support for decision making and consent processes.

+ Jointly develops purpose, design principles and goals, generates and maintains strong alignment throughout.

+ The process engages multiple stakeholders, valuing difference and diversity, while minimising typical risks and mitigation needs associated with inviting his complexity.

+ Early ‘discovery’ of core issues and analysis of potentially beneficial relationships within and without the project, saves backtracking on designs or actions that are narrowly focused, for example on material, technology or short term only.

+ The process actively seeks out cost-efficiencies over both the short and long terms, through engaging all project communities and team members in an intentional process of discovering mutually beneficial interrelationships and synergies, at all scales. Minimises pitfalls of typical planning, design and construction processes, which carry the burden of variations, delays, coordination issues, and in some cases, litigation costs.

+ Unifies technical and living systems, so that high levels of cultural value, individual and team performance, building performance and environmental benefits are realised.




The project journey is advanced through a sequence of inquiry cycles. Nurturing the 'heartbeat' and momentum within each cycle is a living inquiry process, which articulates emerging potential underpinned by understandings of geological, ecological, social and cultural essence.

"Essential Story" gives the compass for the design and development process. Throughout the early discovery work, learnings about the project’s people and place are explored with Mana Whenua (local iwi / tribes), community and professionals, all helping to reveal core patterns of this unique place and its people.

This exploration includes factual and lived experience (past, present, future) to inform the project purpose statement and guiding principles, which are the most important deliverable for this work. Essential Story organises this collective research, so that the understandings can be useful throughout the entire project, orientating all designers involved, as well as informing ongoing operations and activity for the project.


Living Organisational Framework example from Central Community Recycling Centre Project, Auckland Council 2016-2017

Living Organisational Framework example from Central Community Recycling Centre Project, Auckland Council 2016-2017


This framework (above) organises the project community to nourish an inclusive, whole living system of relationship, rather than a chain of command. People work together in the contributing/working groups, and within that, task teams undertake specific pieces of work, always grounded within the relationship to place.

All teams are informed and guided by the same core project purpose and principles, and the ongoing 'inner' and 'outer' development needed to work together in the most efficient and regenerative way.

The core team is made up of key individuals representing each contributing/working group. They meet regularly to engage the whole picture, asking who and /or what is required to continually re-generate this project as a whole living system?



In each cycle of the Integrative Design Process, participants are guided to work independently or in task groups within and across their ‘contributing/working groups’, to research and inquire through their particular relationships and areas of focus.

Then, the groups come together to work as a whole, bringing factual as well as aspirational content to an integration workshop attended by the key members of each group. The first of these whole design team workshops is the largest (1.5 days long), and a critical one to lay the foundations of productive collaboration. This day is focused on aligning around shared purpose, principles, goal-setting and roadmapping to guide the process going forward. After this workshop, the pattern of contributing/working groups and task team preparations, followed by working together as a whole, develops through further workshops, responding to what is needed.



The integrative approach moves us beyond the limitations of traditional silo’d, mechanistic ‘problem solving’, into the connective, dynamic, evolutionary domains of co-creation.

In this process, partnership and community engagement for the project has a renewed focus. We are not simply telling people about our plans and activities. Invitations to participate are not limited to asking people what they ‘think’ or ‘want’. We learn together about what is emerging. What might be possible here, at this time?

We are inviting people to share with us what they know and love about this place. And we all learn from each other, about what the ‘project’ is discovering. Together we build a deeper understanding of the potential of this place, its people and the role the specific 'project' can play to help manifest that potential, to benefit all.




 7 Group and Reed, Bill. ‘The Integrative Design guide to green building – Redefining the practice of sustainability’. Hoboken, New Jersey, U.S.A.: John Wiley & Sons Inc. 2015

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