Today we held our introduction to the students about the workshop steps to be taken during the coming days. After referring to our previous lecture that we held earlier this year about our city research, once again we emphasized our main interest in the design process, instead of a single focus on end results. The students were happy with our decision to research XuXi Village, which is connected to and ‘incorporated' by their university campus. The unique village's economy was created by the presence of the campus; many students find there some leisure and a cheap meal in the evening hours. Once developed very rapidly from a rural area that literaly marked the border with city life, the merchants are now pushing the limits to exploid the area to their profit. The impulsive building style and high density of hidden messages makes it an ideal area for student design research.
In the afternoon we had a group visit to the area where the students photographed as many details as they could, working in groups and focussing on main categories, such as typography, architecture, infrastructure, signage, products and people. Back in class the students shared their material and we discussed their first impressions. We asked them to present 3 descriptive words that state their personal view on the place. Those words shouldn't be too generic but carry out a more poetic, indirect or site-specific metaphor. These words are the warm-up for the next exercise: The 3 Squares.

Each student team has visualised in 2d, and presented to class a set of 3 squares. The first square should depict a text, the second one an image, the third one a plain colour surface - only by use of the pictures that have been taken the previous day. Again, these squares state a personal observation or opinion about the place.
The exercise that follows the discussion is to design another set of 3 squares, but this time created by own hand: one in typography, one as an image and one as a colour tone.

This morning 6 squares were presented by each student team and discussed. The steps that the students have been taken so far, function as an individual briefing for creating the next assignment: the ‘Urban Seal'. This Urban Seal consists of a single design that shouldn't commercially promote Xuxi Village, but represent a specific feature or thought about the place. Some students could make their previous visuals merge into this single seal design, others may again invent a new shape as a logical visual conclusion.

This day was spent on design, while we had individual talks with the different design teams.

We started the day with a round along the different teams, giving some concrete remarks to the students to finalize their designs. Each team was also asked to make a large printout of their design. In the afternoon we all together went back to the Village and presented the designs in the urban environment which we had been researching. Every design, as held by the student was photographed, which got a lot of attention from the local community. As a coincidence, some workers were taking the measures of the campus alley that provides access to XuXi, because of the placing of a safety gate, so that the area can be locked after midnight. A final step that could still be taken is to present one of the seal designs on this gate.

The students concluded their workshop with a final presentation, which briefly outlined everybody's design process of the past week. As a finale Maarten and Steffen presented their lecture ‘The Passage is the Message' about their progressing City Research, some of their observations in Chinese cities and some notions about the Chinese gates.