Cooperative Project - Roots Inc.

Sustainable Tourism for Soni-Mura

Soni-Mura is a village located in Uda district, Nara prefecture, Japan. The village faces social issues relating to aging, depopulation, isolation, a lack of government support and declining local industries. Roots Inc., an organisation that specialises in and promotes sustainable tourism, collaborated with students on this project with the aim of promoting the preservation of local culture, while creating a sustainable environment for Soni. The design tasks included redesigning the tourism centre, promoting the local village life and introducing Soni’s rich history, culture and traditional crafts to both international and local tourists.

To gain a deeper understanding of the local culture, the student team first embarked on a research and study trip to Soni, where they visited the Soni highlands and some local workshops. This provided the students with an opportunity to visit various sites, conduct interviews with the local villagers and industry practitioners and carry out first-hand observations. After observing the social issues in Soni, the students proposed a ‘4CO’ direction, comprising connection, cohesion, communication and co-creation, to enhance public engagement and create a more cohesive community.

The students developed three holistic Soni travel packages for different travellers and visitors. The travel package campaigns included logo designs, advertising strategies in Japanese and English, a user interface for mobile applications, different workshops and farming experiences, camping adventures, hiking and meditation routes, souvenir designs and detailed tour map designs. A working holiday programme was also introduced, with the aim of attracting international visitors to Soni and creating a more diverse culture by attracting young and energetic participants and creating potential job opportunities. The programme also aimed to boost the local economy and mitigate social issues such as depopulation and a lack of international tourists.

The students also designed local products and developed branding proposals based on the travel packages, which included a local character, an incense box, a camping and cycling lamp, and sake and bread packaging.

Lastly, the students re-designed the Soni Information Centre, providing accommodation, office, dining and common areas, bicycle parking, and exhibition and workshop spaces.

Participating students include —

Advertising Design Year 4 students

CHOW Pui Yu and MOK Sze Kwan

Environment & Interior Design Year 4 students

CHOI Ka Man, LAM Ka Siu, LEUNG Cheuk Sum, SHIU Shuk Man, WONG Nap San Kelvin, YAO Xiaoqian, YEUNG Chi Hang, YEUNG Choi Kiu and YUEN Ying Ching

Product Design Year 4 students

LAI Hiu Cheung and MAK Ming Huen

Social Design Year 4 students

CHAN Wing Kei Eunice and YEUNG Wing Tung


Project Tutor —

Michael Chan, Senior Teaching Fellow
School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Work-integrated Education in PolyU brings students together with real-world clients both inside and outside the classroom. Students’ fresh ideas, energy and passion lead to exciting opportunities for clients and collaborators. 
The Cooperative Project is undertaken as a compulsory subject in the first semester of students’ final year of study. Collaborators ranging from commercial enterprises to government departments and non-profit organisations work together with tutors to come up with design briefs that meet the needs of their target audiences.

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