Cooperative Project - St James Settlement

Community Mapping Project for the Eastern District

The Eastern District has experienced a range of urban and social changes in recent years. With further redevelopment and the emergence of local cultural communities, such changes are expected to continue and accelerate in the near future. In cooperation with St. James’ Settlement (SJS), a multi-social service agency, the students participated in a community profile research and mapping project. They explored the district in depth and designed a visual guide to facilitate SJS’s cultural walking tours and activities. The research mapping exercise was expected to help urban dwellers and walkers keep pace with the evolving community, envision its past/future and be inspired by the revival of local lifestyles.

The student team first collected stories and recorded their observations and findings during walks and fieldwork carried out in North Point, Quarry Bay and Tai Koo. These data were divided into three categories – The Walking Experience, Community Information and Community Story – and, using thematic analysis, were curated into routes with statements and guided questions for future walkers.

The students carried out numerous site visits and in-depth research and recorded their visual findings and first-hand interactions with local people and communities, then transformed these into stories and narratives for this content-driven project. The students interviewed the inheritors of disappearing traditional crafts in the Eastern District to learn about their historical backgrounds and skills. The students also observed the architectural elements of new and old buildings and the use of public spaces in the district.

The research outcome yielded two routes, allowing walkers to reflect on the pace of urban development and discover and explore different issues in the community. The first route, themed ‘Dialogue between the old and the new; change and the unchanged’, took walkers to the shops, old buildings and restaurants of the Eastern District, on a discovery of the shadows of past communities and the changes in the streets and lanes.

The subject of the second route was ‘A space utilisation guide’, which introduced walkers to the folk wisdom of the people along the route – from small shop owners to the residents of entire blocks – to learn how they skilfully used their tools and limited space to create their own ways of life. The students’ research was used to develop a community map created by SJS and professional map designers.

Participating students include —

Advertising Design Year 4 students

CHENG Hoi Kiu Kelly, MAK Yuen Yi and YEUNG Kak Lui

Communication Design Year 4 students

CHIU Chun Hei, HO Melissa Hiu Lam, HO Sum Yi and MAN Nga Wing

Environment & Interior Design Year 4 students

LAM Yuet Lai Timothy and LEUNG Masan Sam

Social Design Year 4 students

CHAN Kwong Yu, FENG Xueyi, KWONG Ming Chu, YAN Kam Yuen and YIU Yat Pui

Project Tutor —

Chan Kam Fai, Instructor
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.