1. About the LRDC
Lucitopia Rural Design Challenge 2019
The Lucitopia Rural Design Challenge (LRDC) gathers outstanding young design teams from around the globe, focusing on specific Chinese rural regions, to explore and research issues and needs from the perspective of community, environment, culture and economy. The design process is guided by experienced international tutors, through advanced design methodology, professional know-how and technology. The teams compete to provide the most feasible, innovative and sustainable solutions, leading towards rural regeneration and redevelopment in Chinese rural areas. The first LRDC was held successfully in Zixi Qingliangshan National Forest Park in May 2018, which marked, at the same time, the beginning of the Lucitopia development project.
Xiamen Mexdia Creativity & Technology Co., Ltd.
Xiamen Mexdia Creativity & Technology Co., Ltd. is dedicated to the creation, practice and propagation of innovative concepts. Mexdia believes in the use of design thinking and the integration of creativity and technology, and works on the basis that interdisciplinary collaboration can facilitate innovation and generate sustainable value on an economic, social and cultural level. Building on its multidisciplinary team, and the international partner network established with design, creative and cultural institutions, Mexdia had planned, designed and produced a range of products, events and experiences in the field such as city promotion, rural area development, and urban-rural interaction.
C-PLATFORM is a non-profit culture and art research and curatorial organization located in Xiamen, China. The organization works at the intersection of Art, Design and Technology, focusing on current trends and future concepts in the realm of mixed media. In addition to periodical research subjects and issues it has conducted a series of explorations and related practices. This has been achieved by launching and curating comprehensive research projects and activities which are inter-disciplinary, inter-media and inter-sensory. It attempts to establish an interactive exchange platform that continuously releases creative energy and cultural transformation across the boundaries of content production and communication, public awareness and experience.
In the conception of the ESDC, its development and implementation in various international cities since 2009, the Creative Cooperative has always envisaged a human-centred design intervention within an urban environment with the aim of social, cultural or economic revitalisation of the area.
This intervention should be socially and ecologically focused and the resulting designs sustainable, scalable and reusable. It is community centred and uses open and inclusive co-design methodologies with a strong cross-cultural approach.
Mexdia approached Creative Cooperative with the request to assist their Lucitopia initiative with such an intervention within a rural environment.
In this context, Creative Cooperative is bringing its design approach, methodology, experience, expertise and international network to support Lucitopia with the LRDC. In this sense, it is also an excellent opportunity to address globally relevant issues of rural depopulation from within the community together with broader aspects of ecological and sustainable design and development.
Zixi Qingliangshan Lucitopia Town Dev. Co. Ltd
Lucitopia Town is located in Zhuxi Tree Farm in an area also containing Qingliangshan National Forest Park and several pastoral villages in Zixi County, Fuzhou City, Jiangxi Province. Surrounded by beautiful nature with mountains and streams, Lucitopia Town is within an unspoiled ecological setting and pleasant environment with simple folk customs. Taking the ‘Creative Industry Eco Town’ as the basic positioning, Lucitopia Town aims to incorporate a balance of Ecology, Living and Production (ELP) to create and develop a town that characterizes ‘Ecological Civilization’ and a new form of Creative Industry. Under the premise of the strict protection of the natural environment, and respect for the original ecological balance, the development of Lucitopia Town incorporates spatial planning, industry planning, community building, content creation and experience design in an “organic” approach, which is geared towards the goal of the revitalization of the rural community. Lucitopia Town explores and harnesses local natural, cultural and social resources, strives for the innovative development of its industry, and is dedicated to creating a paradigm of town life that integrates Creative Industries, ‘Livable Ecology’, Cultural Tourism, Leisure and Wellness, and Community Services.
2. Focus of the LRDC 2019
The remote and unspoilt character of Lucitopia Town, situated in the midst of the primeval Qingliangshan National Forest Park with its several pastoral villages, provides an excellent basis for the exploration, design and development of ecologically beneficial and sustainable solutions around a rural community, which seeks to harness, develop and promote the best of local cultural tradition and natural produce, whilst enhancing quality of life through the application of advanced expertise, methodology and technology. Emphasis is placed on such Sustainable Development Goals as efficient and renewable energy, biodiversity, responsible production and consumption, wellbeing, healthy foods, environmental protection and education. All this, together with the natural beauty, flora and fauna of the area, could make Lucitopia an engaging community for both residents and visitors.
From a wider perspective, the Lucitopia project aims to not only create an innovative, ecological town, but also to offer a compelling solution for the revitalisation of the rural community, which not only stems the tide of rural depopulation, but also brings ecologically aware visitors into the area.
In last year’s LRDC, the design participants had a wide remit to develop and revitalise the Qingliangshan area on the basis of a balanced unification of Ecology, Production and Living. This year once again, the LRDC aims to use the immense potential of Lucitopia’s unspoiled natural resources, human talent and inventiveness, and the latest technology together with traditional know-how to develop new forms of rural creative industry.
The focus of the LRDC 2019 will be around the innovative use of natural and waste materials, derelict areas and spaces, the shaping of the ecoscape, renewable energy and wellness, taking ‘edibles’ as a main starting point, to provide integrated design solutions. These solutions can address immediate local needs but also much broader issues around the design of rural – urban interaction within a social, economic and cultural context. The process of sourcing, developing and testing is in Lucitopia, but the aim is to replicate and export the results to a wider region and more rural communities.
In line with Lucitopia’s development strategy, this year’s design solution proposals will also be evaluated for possible further participation in the incubator program in Qingliangshan.
Interview Zhong Zheming with Andrew Bullen 15/04/2019
AB: Important centres of eco-design are now being created in China, such as the well publicized eco-design town in Conghua in the Guangzhou-Shenzhen area. Does the development of Lucitopia town have the same aims and vision as such initiatives as Conghua, or does Lucitopia town have its own, different environmental/ecological aims and vision?
ZZ: From a wider perspective, I think both Lucitopia town and the eco-design town in Conghua aim to explore and practice a possible development model based on ecological/sustainable concepts, which is placed under the context of urban-rural interaction. In a more specific context, as far as I understand, the eco-design town in Conghua has a much stronger focus on its role in relation to the region (Guangdong- Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area), in other words, how much the town can serve regional development is an important consideration in its development. Lucitopia town is based in a more typical Chinese rural area with rich natural resources but facing depopulation. On this basis, one of the important aims is to develop a new local life and community, which attracts people with ecological awareness to work and to live in this area.
AB: I understand, Ming. From your answer, it seems to be that Conghua is part of the regional economic focus on ‘Green Innovation’ of the Guangzhou area, whereas Lucitopia has a strong ‘community’ and ‘ecocological awareness’ focus. But in order to build the economic growth, Conghua is also focusing on building an international, environmentally aware community, attracting already 65 eco-companies to relocate to the town. In the same way, doesn’t Lucitopia also have to develop the economy of the area at the same time as ecological awareness, in order to stop rural depopulation and attract people to move there. Isn’t this why you want to develop new kinds of ecologically friendly eco-products and services here, which can be reproduced, sold and distributed locally, nationally, even internationally? It seems to be that, while Conghua and Lucitopia have similar aims – ecological community and economic development – Lucitopia is starting from a much smaller scale, with a ‘purer’ and more locally ‘authentic’ perspective, and a strong focus on rich natural resources. Do you agree?
ZZ: From the materials I can find on Conghua, it seems that their planning and development is more a ‘from top to bottom’ process, in which the government (particularly the provincial government) is the leading role, who is able to make use and gather a lot more resources on this kind of project, as well as having the positioning from its perspective (e.g. as a provincial government), but like I said, I have also limited knowledge on their project. I agree on what you wrote above about Lucitopia, this can be seen in “the balance of Ecology, Living and Production”, and more specifically, “Creative Industries, “Livable Ecology”, Cultural Tourism, Leisure and Wellness, and Community Services”.
AB: How essential is the aspect of food and ‘edibles’ to the LRDC? For example, we notice that bamboo is an important resource for the area, and a rich source of environmentally friendly material, and we will have the opportunity to visit a bamboo plant. But will be able, for example, to build our solution around bamboo and wood, which are not essentially foodstuffs.
ZZ: Food is one of the basic needs in the development of the ‘Living’ in Lucitopia town. In the context of LRDC, on one hand, the ‘edibles’ can be extended to the ‘living (bio) materials’ or waste materials resulted from local food/agricultural production, as the basis to develop the applications in scenarios such as the construction/renovation of spaces, the shaping of the landscape, creating an energy generating system or a new kind of healthy food. On the other hand, the food and ‘edibles’ can also be seen as a starting point for discovering the possible needs and problems in such scenarios as food production, distribution and consumption, for example, to design the tableware, furniture, space or experience based on bamboo in a food consumption scenario, in this context, the results doesn’t need to be foodstuffs.
AB: I understand, Ming. For the sake of the Challenge, I think it’s very important for clarity that the focus of the challenge can be understood to include ‘(bio) materials’.
AB: We will be able to submit design proposals as systems, products, and services and can these be analogue digital?
ZZ: We don’t have specific requirements on the form of the solutions, the importance is that it solves some problems, meets some needs or addresses some issues, although the form by its nature might have influence on the possible future development of the products, systems or services in terms of their application in a wider context, for example, in some cases digital form might be easier (and less costly) to be duplicated, but of course, this is very project-specific, we would like to leave this space to the teams.
AB: Ming, again for the sake of clarity in the challenge and relating to your last answer, are you looking this year for proposals which would be ‘easier’ and ‘less costly’ to incubate and implement? Can we relate this to certain types of LRDC proposals last year, for example, the bamboo tea packaging or the travel app?
ZZ: Like I said, Andrew, we would like to leave this space to the teams, we have stated some points in our announcement of the Challenge, such as ‘addressing local needs’, and ‘aiming to reproduce and export to a wider region and more communities’, I think it’s not accurate to say that proposals which are ‘easier’ and ‘less costly’ to implement is what we are looking for. Rather than to give an example which related to some types of proposals last year, I’d like to give an example of a type of proposal coming from an internal discussion: we were once discussing about further developing products based on recycled shipping container, one of the resulting ideas is a mobile livestock/vegetable keeping/growing system/module based on circular agriculture, this could be a good example which we might incubate.
3. The Area
As in 2018, the 2019 edition of the Lucitopia Rural Design Challenge (LRDC) will focus on the area of Qingliangshan National Forest Park (Zhuxi Tree Farm) in Zixi County, around a two- hour drive from NanCheng HighSpeed Railway station in Jiangxi province. This relatively remote location has brought some advantages to the region: most significantly, it has remained largely undeveloped, and thus maintained its natural beauty and unspoiled character.
Qingliangshan National Forest Park was established as Zhuxi Agriculture & Forest Farm in 1957 and was subsequently incorporated in the Jiangxi Production and Construction Corps, Fujian Military Region. Between 1964 and 1971 when the Corps was abolished, some 300 “educated youth” (or zhiqing, urban youth, who left the city to support agricultural production in rural areas) worked on the Farm. The Farm assumed the title of Zhuxi Tree Farm in 1973 and has kept this name until now. In November 2006, the Tree Farm was granted the additional title of “Qingliangshan National Forest Park” by the State Forestry Administration (Restructured as State Forestry and Grassland Administration in 2018). Throughout the Tree Farm, architectural features can still be seen from the time of the “educated youth”, such as the Tree Farm workers’ camps, former clinic, auditorium and cinema.
In addition to the administrative buildings, the Tree Farm covers an area which includes several villages. The inhabitants of the villages comprise two different groups: the ‘’originals” with a long local tradition and the “immigrants’, who were moved to the area from Qiandao Lake, Chun’an County in Zhejiang Province in 1959 due to the construction of Xin’an jiang reservoir. Though the migrant and ethnic residents differ in their culture, architecture and traditions, they have lived side by side on this land quite happily for many years.
Just as in other parts of the world, Chinese rural regions are facing depopulation and families are being fragmented, as young people leave home in search of jobs in urban agglomerations. Qingliangshan is no exception; its demographic composition is mostly made up of the elderly and children.
In terms of economic development, Zixi county has promoted many initiatives around eco- and cultural tourism. The renowned Zixi bakery and confectionary, together with its school, have become the main economic support of the county, training highly skilled bakers in addition to delivering high-quality bread throughout the country. Qingliangshan residents who have left the tree farm region mostly work in the county in bread-related businesses. With government support, some local residents have also started honey and bee cultivation. Certain regions in the mountain are known for high quality bamboo, tea plantations and wild mushrooms. Villagers also grow various vegetables and fruits.
4. The Lucitopia Project
The Lucitopia development project officially started in May 2018 with the first edition of the LRDC. Lucitopia states that its aim is to establish and develop a town centred around creative industry and ecology, based on the organic composition of a “one leaf with five veins” planning and ideology: creative industry, ecological well-being, cultural tourism, leisure for health and community promotion. It has now established a creative centre and camp, providing infrastructure services such as office space, meeting rooms, accommodation, food and entertainment. A series of events around local life and possible new industry sectors will follow soon.
a. March – May 2019: Advance research and design process
In this phase, the Challenge will open online research channels. The participating teams are able to obtain relevant information concerning the target area and start the advance research and design process. As they develop their ideas, teams can ask for more targeted information and answers to their questions regarding the Challenge. In addition, the mentors will also provide teams with guidance in this process.
b. 20 May – 25 May 2019: The Challenge and the related activities
All the participating teams will travel to Qingliangshan for the further development, testing, fine-tuning and completion of their solution proposals in this phase. The phase includes on- site visits, design workshops, prototyping, presentations, evaluation by the jury and award ceremony. The Challenge still start and end with formal opening and closing ceremonies, and during and after the event there will be the opportunity to join in local social, cultural and sports events.
c. June – August 2019: The Incubator Program
All the resulting proposals from the Challenge will also be evaluated for the Incubator Program, and selected team(s) will have opportunity to return to Qingliangshan to further develop and implement their project(s).
(More information on the advance research plan, the Challenge schedule and the incubation plan will be published later)
6. Practical Information
i. The Challenge organisation will arrange all the transportation needed
in the travel to Qingliangshan, including the international flights between the designated countries or regions and the transfer city (Xiamen, China), in addition to the high-speed train to Nancheng County and the coach to Qingliangshan. Accommodation in the transfer city (Xiamen, China) will also be arranged as needed.
(More specific travel plans will be made and confirmed with teams) AB / CC
i. All the participants will be accommodated in the ‘Mix Box Camp’ of Lucitopia Town during the Challenge. The Camp is designed and built entirely based on recycled shipping containers. The camp comprises living units, a canteen, convenience store, laundry and reception center. The fully equipped living unit has a simple and comfortable design, including bed, wardrobe, desk, chair, toilet and shower. The reception will also provide basic services.
i. During the Challenge, participants will eat in the canteen of the ‘Mix Box Camp’. The canteen will offer various kind of delicious Chinese food for the three daily meals.
i. The Creative Center adjacent to the ‘Mix Box Camp’ will be used as
the main venue for work and various activities of the Challenge. The Center has been re-designed and transformed from a former garment factory. The building comprises a large multi-purpose space, office spaces, a maker space with 3D printer, laser engraving machine, photocopier, various tools, and a bar offering coffee, drinks and special snacks.
i. The Challenge organization will provide teams with a guide and
interpreter (Chinese ←→ English) during the Challenge and all travel in China. The required technical support will also be provided.
Lucitopia Rural Design Challenge (LRDC) 2019
The 2019 edition of the LRDC was held from 20th until 25th May in Qingliangshan, Zixi County, with additional days following the event to experience the local tea, bamboo, and bakery industries at close hand. The remit was to design a product, system or object:
- focused on the innovative use of natural and waste materials, derelict areas and spaces, the shaping of the ecoscape, renewable energy and wellness, with ‘edibles’ as a main starting point
- addressing immediate local needs, but also much broader issues around the design of rural – urban interaction within a social, economic and cultural context
- sourced and inspired in Lucitopia
- replicable and reusable on a wider regional national or international basis
One important aspect is that, as opposed to larger eco-design initiatives in areas such as Guangzhou or Shenzhen, Lucitopia is starting from a much smaller scale, with a ‘purer’ and more locally ‘authentic’ perspective, and a strong focus on rich natural resources.
Ten teams were selected for the LRDC, with a wide range of design, artistic, architectural and technical skills:
Association for Smart Learning Ecosystem and Regional Development (ASLERD), Rome, Italy
Dutch Royal Academy of Art (KABK), The Hague, Netherlands (Teams 1 and 2)
Köln International School of Design (KISD), Cologne, Germany
London College of Communication (LCC), University of the Arts, London, England
Universities of Saint Petersburg, Russia
Strate School of Design, Paris, France (Teams 1 and 2)
Strate School of Design (Singapore)
Digital Media Art College / Xiamen University, Xiamen, China
Bringing some fifty participants as planned and on time to a relatively remote spot in South East China is in itself a challenge. And logistical difficulties are often exacerbated by unpredictable and sometimes violent weather conditions in South East Asia at this time of the year. This was the case for the LRDC 2019, when semi-tropical storms initially forced the flight diversion of some of the participants to Fuzhou, resulting in some quickly rearranged accommodation and travel arrangements, and subsequently causing the loss of electricity and water when the participants finally arrived in Qingliangshan.
The problem affected not just us in the camp, but the whole village community around the tree farm and actually highlights an essential reason why we are designing there: Good water supply and management are a challenge in this area, as they are increasingly in many other parts of the world as the climate changes, and innovative design solutions – for food and water supply, waste management and repurposing, alleviating poverty etc. – can really improve quality of life.
The Design Challenge
Day 1: Monday, 20th May
Despite the lack of running water in the camp, the first day of the Challenge started as planned with the participants visiting the various villages and places of interest within the Qingliangshan National Forest park and Tree Farm. Most the teams had been conducting research into the area for weeks or months in advance of the challenge; this was now the time to experience the villages, residents and environment at close hand. For the visits, each of the teams was accompanied by a local guide and interpreter.
Despite the relatively compact nature of the area, practically the whole day was necessary for all the teams to gain a satisfactory overview of the terrain, its people and the salient characteristics. The working day ended with a mapping exercise for all the participants in the Creative Centre in order for the teams to define their essential values in addressing their design challenge for the area.
The evening meal was taken in the new canteen. By this time, most of the supply of hot running water had been returned to the rooms and living containers. A new, professional bar in the canteen endeavored to keep spirits high.
Day 2: Tuesday, 21st May
Tuesday morning saw the opening ceremony for the LRDC 2019, attended by many senior local representatives from Zixi County and the Tree Farm, in addition to local residents and Tree farm workers.
The ceremony was followed by the start of the ‘mini-conference’ and the LRDC lectures.
In the course of the Design Challenge in various parts of the world, it has proved to be extremely effective to hold a series of introductory lectures to provide more knowledge and deeper insight into both the themes and issues addressed concerning the targeted area.
At the initial LRDC in 2018, a similar approach was adopted, with the provision of talks and presentations by local experts on themes such as General Environmental policies in China, Geological Aspects of the Area, Cultural Aspects of the Area, and Biological Aspects of the Area.
This year, we aimed to align the introductory lecturers closely on the thematic focus of the LRDC, structure the talks for greater effect and efficiency, and prepare the speakers and translators in advance to achieve maximum impact from the time available.
In line with the overall focus of creating an ecologically aware community and culture, with related economic development, on the basis of the area’s rich natural resources – and a particular emphasis this year on the use of ‘edibles and natural materials’ – we introduced the following thematic structure, with the corresponding expert speakers:
Bamboo / Materials: Gao Yang, Associate Professor & Ph.D. of College of City Design, Director of Housing Product Design Department, Central Academy of Fine Arts, Architect
Landscape Ecology and Rural Revitalization: Huang Zhi, Assistant professor of Environmental Art, Department of Design, Art College of Xiamen University, leader of IUG Innovation Center (Xiamen)
Local policy & economic structure: Zhang Mingchun, Deputy Director of the County Government
Food: Yasmine Ostendorf, Independent researcher, Curator and June Yu, Artistic researcher, Neuhausler
Gao, Huang and Zhang Mingchun presented compelling lectures in the afternoon, before a lively panel session.
These lectures were followed by a value ladder exercise for all the participants in the Creative Centre in order for the teams to define their essential values in addressing their design challenge for the area.
The day ended with a lecture on Food Design and Art by Yasmine Ostendorf.
Day 3: Wednesday, 22nd May
As participants focus on a particular thematic challenge area, they also generally need to revisit particular areas or residents in Qingliangshan in order to deepen their knowledge. This was the case on Wednesday morning, when guides and interpreters were once again hastily gathered in order to ensure that all the relevant visits and interviews could be made.
In the afternoon, the participants once again gathered in the Creative Center to continue the design process.
To design on an ecological basis for Qingliangshan, it is necessary to consider the social, economic and cultural system in which it lies, and the driving forces which will act within this system over the coming years. The first exercise was a systems thinking exercise, based on trends, driving forces, axes and future scenarios.
Examples were constructed around driving forces or ‘counterforces’, opposites which were then used to form horizontal and vertical scenario axes, such as:
Traditional wisdom vs Science
Fast /convenience food vs traditional Chinese food culture
This exercise was followed by stakeholder mapping for the respective areas, on which the individual teams were focusing.
Next, the teams created personae for their target design groups.
The day ended with a lecture entitled ‘Dangerous Eating and Eating Dangerously’ by June Yu.
Day 4: Thursday, 23rd May
Thursday started with the final formal group exercise within the design process: a ‘Day in the Life’ or journey for the target design group of each of the respective teams.
The following time was then free for teams to plan as they wished for maximum creativity and efficiency: brainstorming, designing and organising their own workshops, revisiting places or people of interest.
On the Thursday evening, the LRDC volunteers and interpreters organised and performed a show to entertain the participants and to show their pride and love for Chinese traditional culture. The show contained traditional dancing and singing, and workshops in calligraphy, tea ceremony, Chinese paper cutting and mastery of chopsticks. This was a much-appreciated initiative, which also gave a valuable insight into traditional Chinese culture and tradition from a ‘younger generation’ perspective.
Day 5: Friday, 24th May
As the last full day before the evaluation of the design proposals, Friday was spent with further brainstorming, concept development, prototyping, and preparation of the final presentations and exhibition.
All the teams worked through the day and most, if not all of the next night, to have their exhibitions in place, and their final presentations and models ready for the next day.
Day 6: Saturday, 25th May
On Saturday morning, the jury had plenty of time to examine the exhibition work of the teams and to discuss their work with them in the morning. This year, the jury consisted of the following members:
Janine Huizenga (chairperson): Head IMD, Royal Academy of Art, the Hague, Netherlands
Professor Qin Jian: Art College of Xiamen University & Macau University
Dr. Nick Renshaw: Artist and Researcher
Yasmine Ostendorf: Independent Researcher & Curator
Pan Minghuan: Art Director, Xiamen Lucitopia Co. Ltd.
In the early afternoon, the final presentations took place. In the following pages, the project summaries and presentations of the teams are recorded in their own words and in the order in which they presented.
Strate School of Design Paris, France (Team 1)
Zixi Qingliangshan offers many resources such as bamboo, rice, bee hives, and many fruits and plants with special nutritional value. During the LRDC, we took a close look at these resources. China is the largest rice producer in the world, but not one of the largest rice exporters. China has less large-scale farming. Rather, there are many small farms, which are responsible in particular for the local supply. So, if China uses the most resources, what happens with the food waste and by-products? What happens to the rice husk? What happens to the leftovers of the bamboo chopstick production?
Our idea: Close the resource loop by fostering innovation of leftovers and by-products, and discovering new use-cases. In our proposed Lucitopia Resource Center, we collect leftovers and by-products from farmers and nearby industries to produce new biodegradable materials and products out of it. We produce edible food packaging out of bamboo leftovers and biodegradable plastics from bamboo and rice starch. These materials are going to replace plastics and reduce the non-compostable plastic waste. Moreover, we produce cost and energy efficient building materials out of rice husk.
The Lucitopia Resource Center also houses the Waste Innovation Lab, which will conduct research on alternative materials made out of food waste, leftovers and by-products. In the long-term, our zero waste production is a new revenue stream that brings jobs, families and education back to Lucitopia.
Universities of St Petersburg, Russia
Multi-purpose Rural Showcase & Participation Point
We developed a concept that provides impetus for the development of the territory, which we called the “Multi-purpose Rural Showcase & Participation Point.
From an architectural point of view, this is a light pavilion built of bamboo, glass and old tiles for facing the basement and paving, which we have seen in almost every house; using them in this way is a good way to use waste materials. From the point of view of functional content, it is a multifunctional approach.
From a design perspective, this approach could be more authentic in line with the national Chinese style, but using modern materials and technologies.
The project proposes five functions that, if desired or necessary, can be supplemented or replaced:
- A shop that will become a distribution point/showcase for local producers and entrepreneurs, a ‘tasting point’ for local products and advertising of products from neighbouring villages (or tourist clusters).
- Recycling boxes for collecting plastic, paper and aluminum. This runs in collaboration with a waste treatment company.
- Recreation: Creating a comfortable environment for communication and mentoring (for locals/neighbours, kids and tourists) is the key to strengthening existing ties in the community and the emergence of new ones, and, as a result, the creation of a large multicultural community.
- The educational function in its minimum and most easily feasible configuration includes information boards with the history of the place, local products, culture, games and traditions.
- And the last function we offer is the provision of comfortable toilets with a drainage system.
Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, The Netherlands (Team 1)
The Lucitopia Light Project (资溪小镇光计划) welcomes professionals from different backgrounds to participate in the enlightening(照明) of Lucitopia Town, located in the Qingliangshan region of Zixi County.
Surrounded by beautiful nature, artists(艺术家), scientists(科学家), designers(设计师),
architects(建筑师), spiritualists(精神修练家), engineers(工程师), or any other professionals (任何 其他专业人士) that work, or would like to work, with LIGHT(光) will have the opportunity to join this project. Through creativity(创意) and the use of renewable energies(可再生能源), we will shape the future(未来) of what we already know as Lucitopia Town.
The name Lucitopia comes from the union of the words “lucid”(资溪) and “utopia”(乌托邦).
From Latin lucidus, from lux (“light”) + -idus.
clear(明亮), bright(闪耀), shining, full of light(充满光明)
Utopia(乌托邦) From New Latin Ūtopia, the name of a fictional island possessing a seemingly perfect socio-politico- legal system in the book Utopia (1516) by Sir Thomas More.
With this proposal, we attempt to bring light to Lucitopia, to give birth to the “light utopia”.
Through this residency(驻地计划), participants are encouraged to interact with the local population of the surrounding villages(村庄) and let themselves be inspired by their traditions(传统), crafts (工艺), agriculture(农业), food(食品), resources(资源), ethics(伦理), heritage(遗产), practices(实践), beliefs(信仰) and stories(故事).
Through the coexistence with traditional wisdom(传统的智慧) and ancient customs(古老的习俗), the participants will bring their present knowledge (目前的知识) to form a future place(未来的地方). Moreover, the creative projects that arise from these encounters will have to fully function through renewable energies, such as hydraulic(水), wind(风), solar(太阳能), and bioenergy (生物能源).
Program There will be two cyclic programs for the time and place of the projects: the day and the night.
The day program(每日计划) will focus on the villages. The visitors(游客) will spend the day visiting the villages, so that both locals(当地人) and visitors are able to enjoy each other’s company. The restoration of abandoned houses(遗弃房屋的修理) and the use of public spaces(公共空间的使 用) to be turned into light works(发光的物体) will bring life to the villages.
The night program(夜计划) will focus on nature(自然). To avoid disrupting the daily routine of the villagers and to enjoy the beauty of nature at night, these projects will be placed in the surrounding areas of the villages.
Lucitopia Light Project will revitalize the villagers’ lives; it will brighten their day-to-day and give them the possibility of sharing their knowledge and skills with creators that are interested in inhaling traditional knowledge(吸收传统知识), to exhale their expertise(输出他们的专业知识), as well as with visitors that come to enjoy the enlightened rural zone (被照亮的乡村). Likewise, the project will illuminate the interactions with others, with nature, and with light.
How the way of light(光) will come to shine on the natural and rural elements(自然及乡村元 素) around will be a matter of people leaving themselves open to find its way inside of them, and enlighten them(照亮) as much as the place that will be created.
Being inspired by the local people and traditional Chinese way of thinking(中国人的思维方式), by the Tao’s enlightening capacity(道家的启明能力), by Lucitopia’s name
(资溪的名字), and by the Mycellium network (Mycellium 网络), we try to bring light here, to light up the place in a series of chain reactions(一系列的反应) that will also give light back to us (把光带回给我们).
The Cycle of the Growing Organism
This is the initial phase of the Lucitopia Light Project. To participate in the creation, you may be a professional practitioner, creator, researcher, or expert, capable of making creative work under the theme of LIGHT. This can be achieved through figurative, literal, or abstract connotations, and participants are encouraged to use both natural and artificial light for their projects.
The Qingliangshan region has its own traditions, practices, and resources like bamboo, honey, rice, among others; all of these elements shape its culture. Participants are encouraged to learn from the villagers and let themselves be inspired by these elements through their work.
The residencies will have a duration of two months, after which a lightwork will be produced and ready to be lit. We will be looking for the participation of volunteers that come from urban areas to help on the final stretch of the projects: the lighting-on.
They will be cooperating for one week in the build up, while learning about the projects themselves, so that during the weekend, the works can be lit. This would create a unique bond and exchange of knowledge between people from rural areas, from urban areas, and possibly, from abroad.
The gestation period will produce the sufficient amount of works to mark the introduction of Lucitopia Town as a Light Town. Consequently, visitors will start coming and fill the place with light. After this phase, comes the birth.
Lucitopia is officially the “Light Town”. A ceremony will be held to celebrate the beginning of Lucitopia as a light site.
The residency programs will continue to run, continue to fill the place with light, while the number of visitors increases. Nevertheless, to keep the natural cycles of the place, the lighting-on moments will remain every two months, when a residency is over.
From this point onwards, the growth will set the pace for further activities to develop.
Strate School of Design Paris, France (Team 2)
Connect Inn is a mobile application aimed at bridging the gap between city dwellers and villagers. The application reaches out to adventure-seeking local urbanists, who are looking for a break from the hustle-and-bustle of city life. Through the revitalisation of idle houses, city dwellers can book their house of choice and connect with the villagers. The city dweller will engage in a series of different activities of their choice with the different crafts from the villagers. This impartation of values and culture will hope to instil a sense of wonderment among urbanists and allow for the preservation of these rich skills.
Association for Smart Learning Ecosystem and Regional
Development (ASLERD), Rome, Italy
One of the products that makes the rural area of Qingliangshan a unique resource is its great food offering. Observing and listening the villagers here, we perceived and understood them to be proud of their natural method of cultivation so we decided to exploit this value through the promotion of an unconventional way to experience food.
In a village context, food is usually seen as a simple source of sustenance. We wanted to push our idea of food experience to the opposite extreme, taking our time to explore with our senses different characteristics of food or just to play with possible ways of interaction.
Our series of bowls are made with special modular covers; while the bowl contains one of the high quality products from the park, the covers suggest the way to interact with the food before tasting it. This approach that separates the perception of our senses allows us to concentrate on the details which we previously would have not noticed: the sense of smell, or taste is separated from sight, so that one sense is not influenced by the others, but is experienced in its simplicity.
Our aim for this project is to create a new culture around food. Based on this culture, the attractiveness of this area is increased for tourists that are looking for healthy interactive experiences to spend some of their time in a relaxing context.
London College of Communication / University of the Arts, London,
The Heart of Qingliangshan
Lucitopia Food Innovation Series.
Our vision for Qingliangshan is to become the number one destination for sustainable food innovation.
We will achieve this through the Lucitopia Food Innovation Series which is a program aimed at reconnecting young Chinese urbanites with rural communities who produce their food.
The food innovation series is a cultural and skills exchange program. The program is focused on bridging the gap between modernity and tradition through the exploration of locally and seasonally sourced edibles in Qingliangshan.
The area of Qinglianshan is suffering from depopulation. The gap between urban and rural areas is widening. Young people in urban centres are disconnected from tradition and have a lack of awareness about sustainable ways of food consumption. Local villagers in Qingliangshan embrace sustainable ways of farming and carry the wisdom and heritage of traditional ways of cooking, however this tradition will likely be lost for generations to come.
Through a partnership with XinDongFang (XDF), the number one culinary school in China, we have designed a curriculum focused on sustainable food innovation. Culinary students will be challenged to innovate around foods that are grown locally and in season. Students will travel to local villages on the innovation series food truck to discover traditional ways of cooking, and at the same time innovate with the local villagers using locally and seasonally sourced produce.
The concept will focus on regional culinary schools, but has the potential to expand to international schools, with the vision to become the destination for food innovators.
Digital Media Art College / Xiamen University, Xiamen, China
When we were inspecting the area, we heard a story about a bee from a beekeeper:
When the old queen of the bee colony gave birth to a new queen bee, after the new queen bee was hatched and began to produce smoothly, the old queen bee was executed by the beekeeper because its bee production was much lower than that of the new queen, and the corresponding honey production was also very low. This is like the rural population in social development. Young and middle-aged people choose to go to an urban area and develop, while more people are left behind. They become ‘left-behind people’ in such an environment, whether it is people or bees, everyone is even more like a resource. In order to obtain higher returns, the society artificially accelerates the cycle process, allowing the old queen bee, the elderly or the disabled with insufficient production to be abandoned by the system.
The character here is a 10-year-old girl who was discovered during our visit. She was born with cerebral palsy due to hospital operation errors and a mistake in the diagnosis. The timing of the delay in treatment was huge. Under economic pressure, the mother left home, and her father’s efforts did not make the situation better. Therefore, the girl is now living in the countryside with her grandparents. She does not have the ability to take care of herself, she cannot speak, and she had a big problem with walking. Years have passed, the family has long lost the confidence and ability to cure her, and the grandparents who accompanied her are slowly getting old.
We are hoping to help the little girl because she has been isolated in the family for a long time, so we considered that art therapy may help her psychologically. In the process of understanding art therapy, we found that its target audience is a huge group.
As of 2017, according to the National Psychological Doctors Conference, there are a total of 190 million mentally handicapped people in the country, and the shortage of psychological counselors is 430,000. These data mean huge problems, but also huge possibilities.
We have learned and obtained a better understanding of art therapy and tried to use it for the ‘left-behind people’ in the countryside.
The people whom we target are left-behind people in the rural areas. They tend to have weak labor ability, lack of communication with the outside world, economic self-sufficiency, and low social attention.
The method we choose is to let the ‘left-behind people’ in the rural areas carry out manual production. This production activity does not depend on their production capacity, and in this process, two things involved have become our key. First of all, the production process itself is a cure. Is this possible?
Expressive art therapy is a kind of mental approach. This process often inspires more imagination and inspiration, promotes creativity and insight, and also reduces defense. People will be in an unpredictable situation, expressing the true state of the heart.
Letting these ‘left-behind people’ engage in production, is the expression of artistic expression. For example, when using beeswax and botanical spices, they can make their own creations in the selection and proportion of scent and make a variety of choices in the sandbox. With them, they can try different materials and create different sand prototypes. These creative processes are where the expressive art works.
The other key question about the treatment regarding what producers produce during labor is that the articles created by the producers are actually the instruments of psychotherapy. These objects can promote the participation of more people in this system and also promote healing.
Sandbox game therapy is a non-verbal therapeutic intervention, using sandboxes, toy figures to create a miniature world scene that reflects a person’s inner thoughts, struggles and concerns. The therapist would record, observe and help the visitor to self-heal.
In this cycle, when the ‘left-behind’ population is supported and when the manual production of therapeutic supplies is carried out, the participants themselves will be treated with art and then after the product is sold, the purchaser will be treated by the product, and the producer will obtain economic benefits. This will attract more people to join in, thus maintaining the system’s cycle. Other stakeholders are maintaining normal economic relations with this system.
On this basis, we also envisage a possible derivative industry for this activity. It may bring about local ‘experience’ activities in the villages where this model is implemented. As activities progress, this may become a project for tourists. As to how psychologists are involved in this system, we believe that online activities can cope with the geographical environmental factors in rural areas, so that activities can be carried out on a larger scale. We also believe that the products of this activity can be displayed in the city. The possible effect is a group of art exhibitions with strong composition.
Köln International School of Design, Cologne, Germany
Open Access Lucitopia
A program radical in its simplicity: Stripped from all schedules, students and young professionals come to focus soley on themselves and their research interests to find the perfect state of body and mind in the rich natural and cultural environment that Qingliangshan offers.
Framing the Challenge
How to revitalize Qingliangshan and boost the local economy by taking a bottom up approach that is built around creative industries?
The future of the countryside can only be built around China’s young generation – young people who live in the cities because of better education and work opportunities. Our project is devoted to how the countryside, specifically Lucitopia, can attract this young generation by meeting the needs which we identified to revitilize the area and boost the local economy in Qingliangshan.
We surveyed over 50 Chinese students and young professionals as well as conducted a workshop with Chinese students to understand what would make an area like Qingliangshan attractive to them. From our research we learned that young people feel incredibly burdened and stressed from the pressure to perform in school and work and the constant flow of information and communication. The main pain point that we identified in our research was the desire for young people to escape the pressure of their lives where their schedules and time are determined for them by external forces. (»I want to be like a tree.«) Participants wished for more time to be alone, space for creative thinking and working, but also for more insights into Chinese traditional culture. They also identified their desire to give back and care for rural communities.
Designing a Solution
Our design proposal is a program we call »Open Access Lucitopia«. Building on the existing infrastructure of Lucitopia we propose to …
1) … base the further development of the area and its activities on the idea of »Yin Ju«
2) … extend Lucitopia into the natural environment through tiny glass cubes
3) … introduce two new forms of research stays
Central to the idea of »Yin Ju« is the creation of a perfect body, with food consumption and digestion being an elemental part of this process. Also central is the idea of the human as the smallest possible component in a natural environment. We would like to build on both ideas by proposing a program that immerses into the natural environment and uses nature as its only resource as well as the rhythm of nature as its only structure. The rhythm of day and night and the rhythm of food production and consumption serve as the only schedule, leaving room for individual research and creativity. Small glass houses with solar power are built as creative work stations throughout the forest and become landmarks of the area, giving people a space to ‘live invisibly’.
In 2020 a 1–2 months summer school is set up for students using the infrastructure that already exists within Lucitopia. Following up, Lucitopia will create partnerships with both universities and corporations in order to generate year round income. In 2021, researchers and professionals from the fields of sciences, ecology, design and arts will use the space for site-specific innovative research projects. Far away from the demands of city life, students and researchers alike will have open access to the natural resources of Qingliangshan and the knowledge of its villagers as well as to Lucitopia’s innovative research and work facilities and international expert knowledge (represented through artists and scientists in residence).
Community Benefit and Scale
The benefit for the community is both economic and social. With more people coming to the area, there is economic stimulation from sales at the local stores and farmers. Additionally, having participants who are socially minded come to the area, counteracts the isolation that the elderly villagers expressed. Here there is rich opportunity for knowledge and culture exchange. In the long run abandoned village houses will be renovated for long term stays incorporating Lucitopia more into the village.
Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, The Netherlands (Team 2)
A transported moment of rurality
In the centre of the stressful hustle and bustle of the daily grind of the city of Xiamen, a strange space pops up with a means to transport you to Zhi Xi County Qinglianshang. When you step into the iconic container of Lucitopia, you are immediately transported from the city to the rural landscape. Instantly the smell of wood, grass and nature greets you. The walls of the container display a portrayal of scenes that play in a surround 360 degree video going slowly from day to night, providing a sense of being in the rural area inside of the city even if just for a moment. Implemented interactive objects will enhance the experience of approaching the rural (a light installation in a beehive, a set of VR glasses made out of bamboo…).
At the end of the mixed reality experience you pass by the vending machine. Containing local products. Honey, tea, small wooden tigers, seeds and other great items. An immediate way to take home the experience you had as a memento and a reminder that this life is always waiting there for you.
Strate School of Design Singapore
The Lucitopia Distillery Company is a project inspired by the possibility of utilizing natural resources from the region of Qing Liang Shan into premium “experience” products in light of the rapid growth of the global artisanal alcohol industry. Motivated by their strong home- brewing culture, there is potential for the locals to share the stage.
This presents opportunities to increase curiosity in the resources Lucitopia has to offer
- quality ingredients (both cultivated and foraged);
- skillsets of the locals (brewing, foraging, making bamboo barrels);
- the environment that integrates these factors.
Boosting Tourism Through A 2-Phase Approach:
Phase 1 – Using local ingredients to develop premium alcohol products incorporating global expertiseEffect: generating income to develop infrastructure for future development; attract talent, investors and potential partners.
Phase 2 – Developing a restaurant that is similar to Noma (within 5 years) & a food lab (within 8 years) focused on innovative crop cultivation and exploring ingredient preparation/cooking techniques for the restaurant. A bar and a tavern will be developed concurrently with the restaurant to provide cheaper alternatives to tourists and serves as a common ground where tourists and locals interact. This is aligned with Lucitopia’s ambitions to create a resort-like living experience with existing infrastructure developments.
Ingredient #1 – Honey
The region has long been known for its honey. There is constantly more demand than supply. Our aim: increase honey supply.
We have developed an intuitive device that can be easily used by the villagers while increasing their bee colonies. Mead brewed from local honey – we noted that the local honey varieties are naturally sweeter than many others and see potential to develop quality mead from it.
Ingredient #2 – Foraged Ingredients (Roots, Florals And Fruits Etc.)
Examples: floral-infused gin, root-infused whiskey, fruit liqueurs etc.We aim to produce products with a local twist by integrating foraged ingredients exclusive to the region into their alcohol products to differentiate from the existing products in the market. These products will be unique to the region and represent the rich local heritage, putting Lucitopia on the map of places to visit.
Ingredient #3 – Bamboo
The region is rich with naturally occurring bamboo plants, and we aim to engage the local expertise to build bamboo casks for ageing alcohol products like whiskey or baijiu. Bamboo is believed to have potential health benefits and using it to age alcohol would make for interesting products attractive to international consumers. We also designed a new bottling system that, over time, enhances the flavor of the baijiu. The global acquired palate for the taste of baijiu has to be developed with global expertise in order to appeal to the international consumer.
Jury evaluation and Award Ceremony
In addition to overall design quality, the jury evaluated the proposed projects according to the following criteria:
After extended deliberations, the jury the selected the following prize winners, which were announced in reverse order:
Third Prize: Strate School of Design, Singapore
Prize presented by Ren Wenhua, Deputy Director of Zixi County People’s Congress
Second Prize: Strate School of Design, Paris, Team 1
Prize presented by Mr. Leng Fenjun, the former Director of Committee for Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Overseas Chinese and Foreign Affairs in Jiangxi Provincial CPPCC, Deputy Director and Secretary General of the Provincial Private Economy Research Association.
First Prize: London College of Communication (LCC), University of the Arts, London
Prize presented by Gilian Wang, Executive Director of Zixi Qingliangshan Lucitopia Town Dev. Co., Ltd.
After the presentation of the award, the closing ceremony of the LRDC 2019 brought the official proceeding to an end for one more year.
It is worthwhile mentioning once again the volunteers and interpreters, who came to Qingliangshan and gave their time to facilitate communication, cultural insight and logistics and played an essential role in the running of the LRDC.
Day 7: Sunday, 26th May
With the “challenge” part of the of the event finished, the LRDC moved into the “additional visits” phase, with the aim of giving the participants insight into the social, cultural and economic background of the area.
Sunday started with a visit to a tea plantation and small factory in Gaotian Town, with an introduction to the tea production process (still partially by hand) and the tea ceremony. The production of high quality tea is an important industry in Zixi county, and the excellence of the tea sampled in Gaotian Town proved that this natural product is indeed a significant asset in the area.
Next followed a visit to an extensive bamboo processing and production plant (Zhushang Bamboo Co.Ltd. / Dasso Group), and bamboo product presentation in the moxibustion centre in Gaofu Town. The output and technology around bamboo production were impressive; bamboo products from the factory are exported in great numbers to companies such as IKEA in Europe and the Unites States, and the outlook for bamboo as an eco-friendly construction material are promising.
Day 8: Monday, 27th May
Monday saw a visit to the “Bread Culture Plaza” and “Da Jue River Rural Tourism Zone”, followed by the “Xu Quan Long bread school” in Hecheng Town , the County Town of Zixi.
The rapid development of the new tourist attractions bore witness to the ambition of the Zixi County administration in promoting tourism with a diverse range of approaches. The visit to the bakery reinforced the impression that Zixi County is capable of making an international impact with its industry and resources.
Lunch was taken in the canteen of Hecheng Town Administration, with discussions around innovation and local economic and social conditions with Mr. Wu Huiwen, Deputy Director of the County Government and Mrs Ren Wenhua, Deputy Director of Zixi County People’s Congress.
In the afternoon, the group visited the Red museum, a renovated Educated Youth camp in the centre of Wushi Town, a reminder of the times from the 1960s to the 1980s, when Chinese students were drafted into such rural areas to help drive the rural economy.
Day 9: Tuesday, 28th May
Tuesday morning saw a workshop by Finnish artist Laura Puska, where the group baked figures with identities of their colleagues in bread – a fascinating creative exercise which also had the advantage of having edible and delicious results.
This workshop was followed in the afternoon by a second ‘culinary’ atelier, where “Zong Zi” (rice dumplings) were prepared under the watchful eye of the chef and local residents, as the traditional food for the upcoming Dragon Boat Festival.
The afternoon ended with the already traditional sporting contest, featuring the local Tree Farm workers, representing China, against the combined forces of the LRDC participants (particularly those who had brought some form of sports clothes and sneakers and who had previously engaged in some form of sporting activity), representing the Rest of the World. This year, the sporting events were restricted to a basketball game, always the first choice of the Chinese hosts, which was keenly contested, of high sporting quality and, perhaps to the surprise of many, ended in a close victory for the LRDC Rest of the World team! This sporting feat will indeed be a challenge and hard act to follow for future LRDC sports teams.
The evening ended with a visit from the She ethnic minority group, who came in their traditional costume and with their potent wine to give an unforgettable dance performance, making this also into an interactive event with the LRDC participants.
Day 10: Wednesday, 29th May
Early on Wednesday morning, the remaining LRDC teams started the return journey to Xiamen via Nancheng and the High Speed Train for a final night in the Hotel Mercure before departing for their respective destinations.
The 2nd edition of the LRDC provided initially a daunting example of the power of the weather in South-East China in influencing living and working conditions.
At the same time, it showed once again the incredible potential of an unspoilt area in a deeply rural setting, with immense natural resources and local people, whose remarkable resilience is only matched by their great warmth and hospitality.
If the cultural and social differences of designing in a remote area of China represent a challenge, we are exceptionally fortunate in the way our hosts, local representatives, cultural associations and business provide unique insight and support in understanding local cultural, social and economic life as an essential part of the creative and design process. This support was accentuated still further this year by the provision of additional days to experience may facets of the area of the area, and people, at very close quarters.
The LRDC process continues against the background of the development of Lucitopia as a new kind of creative, ecologically focused innovative hub for Jiangxi province and beyond, and as we progress in aligning design talent, entrepreneurial spirit, social and cultural awareness, local knowledge and resource even closer for real impact.
As ever, the preparation and implementation of an event like the LRDC demands a tremendous amount of individual expertise from many quarters, tireless collaboration across disciplines and borders, and an unending font of goodwill. Special thanks go to:
-The organisations, institutes and schools which participated in the LRDC 2019
-The villagers and residents of the Qingliangshan National Park
-The Qingliangshan Tree Farm Management, Administration and Workers
-The Zixi County Administration and Local Government
-The management and workers of the Gaotian Town Tea Factory, Zhushang Bamboo Co.Ltd. / Dasso Group, Xu Quan Long bread school, and Red Museum in Wushi Town
-The She ethnic minority group
-The LRDC Volunteers and Interpreters
-Guest speakers and mentors
-Lucitopia Zixi Qingliangshan Lucitopia Town Dev. Co., Ltd., Mexdia Creativity and Technology Co. Ltd and C-Platform