Designing with Japanese locals

Students from our Social Design, Digital Media and Interactive Media programmes joined together to collaborate with 39 Media Engineering students from Chukyo University, Japan to work on topics of sustainability and local craftsmanship last summer, led by Teaching Fellow Mr. Alex Ho.

The project theme is about sustainable development and gratitude education. The students stayed in Japan for eleven days, where they did contextual research with the counterparts by visiting the timber forest om Toyota, wood factory, local craft workshops as well as a hands-on one-day woodcraft class with a local carpenter. They also investigated and exchanged knowledge with Japanese students and local people on cultural differences, natural resources and local craftsmanship while having their own self-driven field research on digital media related topics which the Digital Media students were good at.

At the end of the study trip, they held a public exhibition at the Toyota Parenting Integrated Center in downtown Toyota, showing their handmade wood and bamboo toys for children, and introducing the importance of sustainable use of resources and preservation of local craftsmanship to family visitors there, actualising what they have learned to affect others in the general public. Parents and children were invited to play their toys and were explained about sustainability and gratitude towards our mother nature. The exhibition made a perfect conclusion of the learning journey.


Another 30 students from various departments of PolyU who took the subject of ‘SD2S01 Design and Build in Remote Community’ had their service learning experience in Keihoku, a remote countryside of Japan where a music festival held in September.

The group led by Michael Chan and Ivy Kong was invited by the Kyoto government and its Education Department, and supported by Japan’s NGO Roots to contribute their cross-disciplinary knowledge to the local economy. Their mission was to attract tourists through architecture and a comprehensive marketing plan in a sustainable approach. Having conducted a research in the community and with local high school students, a tourist attracting treehouse was nicely built by the students from scratch in a spot surrounded by the natural environment.