MDes Talks: MasterClass on Greater China Public Transportation Futures 2030: Stations and Interchanges

Jooyeon Ha is a current student in International Design and Business Management (MDes). Before moving to Hong Kong, she worked in agencies as a branding and visual designer after graduating from her Bachelor's degree in Product Design from Hongik University.

Why do I join the Design Foresight MasterClass

When it was almost time to wrap up the second semester, I saw a poster about an extra week-long MasterClass* about the future public transportation in China in 2030. At that time, I was thinking about the topic of my thesis on future mobility and transport system for senior users. This MasterClass would be suitable for my research and an opportunity to discuss with people from other disciplinary backgrounds sharing a common interest.

“Greater China Public Transportation 2030 - Stations & Interchanges” is under “Design Foresight MasterClass 2018” series, facilitated by Dr. Joern BuehringPhoto: PolyU Design

[Editor’s Note: “Greater China Public Transportation Futures 2030 - Stations & Interchanges” is under “Design Foresight MasterClass 2018” series, led by Dr. Joern Buehring]


Participants and guests from the industry
Photo: PolyU Design

11 MDes students got accepted to the Design Foresight MasterClass; we were from different MDes programmes, International Design and Business Management, Design Strategies, Interaction Design, and Urban Environments Design. On one hand, the MasterClass offered workshops to introduce future thinking and foresight theories using Design Thinking methods. On the other hand, we were connected with organisations working on public transportation projects: ARUP and MTR. In the MasterClass, they shared specific insights about current transportation situations and exchanged ideas around emerging trends in the foreseeable future.

(Left) Drivers of change cards; (Right) Discussing issue based on selected topic cards

The programme

On the first day, we used ARUP’s tools – Drivers of Change cards to help think about the global issues and contexts. Drivers of Change cards is a set of knowledge cards designed to investigate the trends and issues that are mostly to have a significant impact on the built environment and the society.

These trends and issues have been organised into five categories based on their main area of impact: Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental, and Political, collectively referred to as STEEP. From understanding the background of issues at a global level, we considered the ones more relevant for China’s public transportation system, and among them are the radical change of technology, ageing society, sharing economy, air pollution, and other issues. We then discussed the problems and asked questions to gain a deeper understanding to improve a better quality of life.

After that, we mapped the topics and questions in three categories and formed groups: System, Space, and Interaction, then research potential capability in the market and identified the opportunities within these three areas as well as the main values that would direct the future station interchange.

After conducting the initial research, we were ready to meet with specialists in ARUP’s office in Kowloon Tong, a nice working environment at a well-connected location. At the meeting, they shared their process on transportation and station planning for better user experience, supported by technologies such as apps, Wi-Fi, and movement analytics through simulations. We got to know that, to plan smart, we need to understand people’s travel behaviours and movements in all imaginable situations. It is widely accepted that passenger-centred design is at the centre of better public transportation experience and the main purpose is to make passengers navigating in the station an enjoyable moment. However, in reality, the station management process and transport systems are different from country to country and they involve different sets of users, systems and stakeholders.

Back to the studio, each team worked diligently to delving deeper into STEEP and how the changing trends would be adapted to the station planning in the future context. In the last two days, we developed the insights further and projected the values for using public transportation (see the illustration above). When planning for System, Space and Interaction for public transport interchange in 2030, we suggested that it would work seamlessly with the ecosystem and allow organic growth of the local environment and community. It would enable the active value exchange and at the same time reflecting the local context.

Before the last day of the MasterClass, we presented future scenarios for public transportation to envision their design in 2030 based on our insights from System, Space and Interaction. The three groups used different deliverables that helped to communicate their concepts more visually and clearly rather than using a long-winded explanation. Our group made some maps and videos that surely helped imagining a desirable service journey in the future station interchange.

Video showing the service journey in the station interchange 2030

Although it was only a five-day programme and it might be hard to get in-depth insights or detailed conclusions, by the end of this short MasterClass and after working with other students, I came away with a vision for the public transportation system and what we should consider for a better travel journey. When comparing the travel journey in the 1980s and today, we know that we are living in revolutionary environments in cities and enjoying a high standard of service. But in the future, the public transportation isn’t simply about mobility (moving people from point A to point B). Instead, it is a seamlessly integrated system and environments for bringing intangible value and building a stronger community interaction.

Photo Credit: Jooyeon Ha, except as specified

About the Writer

Jooyeon Ha - I like to help others by sharing knowledge, experience, time and energy with anyone who needs it, at the same time I am also keen on learning new things from others. Personally, I would like to talk about the culture, language, food, and movie.

MDes Talks is a series of student blogs produced by current MDes students and recent graduates. For its third edition, the editorial team consists of writers from China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Mexico, France, Germany, Switzerland and Denmark. They write about study life, living abroad, design, and what you don't know about PolyU and Hong Kong.