While we are here, what can we do?

KVS (Koninklijke Vlaamse Schouwburg)

Inspiration for creating legacy with your congress in Care & Health

Your congress in Care & Health is a truly excellent opportunity to create legacy. Take, for example, the World Congress for Design & Health, that is being organised for April 2022 in Ghent. Organisers Gunther De Graeve and Ann Decock made legacy a focal point of their approach. How are they succeeding in creating with their congress an on-going positive impact for both their delegates and the residents of their host city.

Ann Decock: “Design and health are two professions that are related to each other. We all know that the surroundings have an impact on health. Today there is mainly so-called healing architecture: the infrastructure is aimed at healing sick people. But we can also ask how infrastructure can prevent people getting sick in the first place. In other words: can we build in such a way that the diseases related to lifestyle - as those are no less than 70% of the total - can be prevented?

Can we build a healthy city with fewer depressions and less obesity? In this way, medicine can concentrate on the other 30% of disease, which have a cause other than lifestyle.”

Ann Decock
Günther Degraeve

Gunther De Graeve: “The question we asked was: while we are here, what can we do? How can we make the link between the organisation of our congress and the location? Can we find common ground with local projects, to help support them? For that we look at the presentations that are programmed for our congress.

Can we link those studies to local projects that benefit from the results? In this way, you help local projects move forward, while at the same time you stimulate your own experts to focus their study more on legacy. And a great side-effect: you involve the local community more strongly with your congress, because they pluck the fruit of it. Incidentally, that makes it a lot easier to recruit local community volunteers which you always need for your congress.”

Ann Decock: “We are thinking about organising our congress in the same place for several times in a row. After all, you build up legacy in steps. You need time for that, and you get that time by bringing the congress frequently to the same city or the same country, by monitoring the local projects and making the community all the stronger for it.”

Gunther De Graeve: “You can also build legacy in education. Our congress brings together two professions: design and health. In response to our congress in Milan, the local university built a laboratory where architect students follow part of their course in medicine and the other way round. In the United States, a faculty was founded which couples neuroscience with architecture. There this is about the use of colours in buildings and the effect of that on your brain. A new study course that starts up or new subjects that are included in a course: that is also legacy.

Gunther De Graeve: You can also create legacy in the form of your congress. We are organising our congress in Ghent at two locations in the city, a ten-minute stroll from each other. The first keynotes will be given in one location, and then we will walk to the other location for the papers. Your delegates stroll in the urban fabric, to which you can once again attach activities. And at the same time we promote the health aspect: after all, walking is healthy. And so we combine two fields - architecture and health.”

Ann Decock: “Even the duration of your congress can have impact on your legacy. Now a congress lasts on average four days. Your delegates arrive, they are submerged for four days in the material and then they leave again. Generally they are exhausted by the time they arrive home and then they have to spend time catching up with all the work that has been left undone. In other words: they don’t get the chance to process the knowledge they have acquired, and after several weeks, everything has been forgotten. So you can rightly ask the question: why can’t a congress last for two weeks? Your delegates arrive. They follow the sessions spread farther apart and, in the meantime, keep abreast of their work. In this way, you don’t build up to peak exhaustion, but absorb the knowledge gradually, so that you can process and even apply it immediately to the work you are doing at the congress location.”

4 legacy tips from Ann Decock and Gunther De Graeve

  1. See whether you can link the presentations, seminars or topics of your congress to local projects.
  2. Organise your congress in the same city or the same country for several times in a row.
  3. Opt for 2 locations for your congress in the city, a short stroll from each other.
  4. Spread out your congress over a longer period.


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