The urbanisation is growing fast over the world. By 2100, we will be about 10 to 13 billions people on the earth and around 9 billions inhabitants will be living in urban area.

How can we live together in urban area without damaging the planet and the society ?

This is the question we asked to 5 classes of the French International School in Hong Kong.

To answer it, we imagine a project where schoolchild would explore the district of their school (Chai Wan District) and then imagine solutions for a better future. We did not focus only on the architecture but also on discrimination, culture or lifestyle.

We divided this project into five different steps :

  1. EXPLORE: kids walk through a part of the district taking pictures and finding solutions for a better future. The teacher explain things about architecture, construction, geography, environment...
  2. IMAGINE: In class, kids draw on picture the solutions they imagined
  3. MAKE: Kids build a model with different material
  4. ASSEMBLE: the different groups come and assemble the models (5 parts in this case) like a 3D puzzle.
  5. PRESENTATION: In front of other students and parents, kids will present what they did by explaining how it was before and it will be in the future.

The aim of this project for the students are multi-purpose:

  • Explore the district of their school
  • Learn about construction, urban planning and architecture
  • Imagine sustainable and social ideas for a better future
  • Learn to use hand tools by making an architecture model.

In this project, the facilitator will assist the children in every steps with the teacher of each classes. Which skills does the facilitator need ?

  • Construction and architecture knowledge
  • Photography and print skills
  • Technics for using tools (cutter, glue pistol, jigsaw...)
  • Pedagogue and friendly with kids
  • Skills on software (office, google, Fusion, Photoshop, Illustrator)
  • Happiness

On the link below, you will find the presentation we did the first day to the kid in order to introduce the project. To do this presentation, we looked at architectural and artistic references


Explore the city measuring and looking for possibilities across the District.

Divide the district according to the number of classes you have.

With each class, split your visit into 3 subjects with 3 groups :

  • Construction.
  • Nature.
  • Human activities - interview.

Construction :

  • Measure the height of buildings.
  • Make the difference between offices, housing, factories and commercial buildings.
  • Find highways, MTR and other transportations.
  • How could we enhance the district ?

Nature :

    • Describe parks of the district.
    • Find trees and pick a leaf.
    • Try to find animals and see if they are domestics or not.
    • How could we enhance the district?

    Human activities - interview:

    • Introduce yourself in 5-10 seconds.
    • Ask people in the district about their life. Do they live in Chai Wan, since how long ?
    • What would they want Chai Wan looks like in the future?


    • Camera
    • Notebook
    • Pencil
    • Laser meter
    • Decametre

    Back in class, each group do a presentation of what they discovered.

    Step 2: IMAGINE

    In order to prepare this step, you need to print the pictures children took when they explored the district.

    Advices :

    • A3
    • B&W
    • 2 or 3 set of each photo

    In class, children are working alone or by group of 2 or 3.

    What they need:

    • scissors
    • glue
    • paper sheets
    • markers
    • color pencils

    During 3 to 4 hours, they will draw the ideas they have got during the exploration of the district. It can be an idea about nature, construction, human activities or a mix. For instance, we had some ideas about creating roof gardens, sliding chairs for disable people or elderly, cable cars between buildings, replacement of highways by parks...

    At the end of this step, make a vote to choose 4 ideas (most beautiful drawing, best idea, easy to make...).

    Step 3: MAKE-Create a Topographic Map 1/3

    Use the geo-location tool on Sketchup to add a map from Google Earth.

    Then follow the tutorial (see attached video) to make it in 3D !

    If you want an accurate model, you can export the Sketchup file to Autodesk Fusion and use Slicer for Fusion to cut the slices with a laser, a CNC or another hand tool.

    What I did it's I only use the 3D model to have a global idea of the topo of Chai Wan district.

    Step 4: MAKE-Create a Topographic Map 2/3

    1. Print a massive map of the district with (see picture and attached file)
    2. Try to use a good scale (we used 1:250)
    3. Stick the map on 4 plywoods boards (see picture)
    4. Cut the plywoods according to each zone for each class.


    • Printer
    • Masking tape
    • Scissors
    • Cutter
    • Ruler
    • Circular saw
    • Jigsaw

    Step 5: MAKE-Create a Topographic Map 3/3

    After having cut the different parts of the map, create the topo with polyurethane foam and foam board.

    Do not forget to keep the printed map with you.

    When the topo is done, cover the full model with 2 or 3 layers of "papier maché"

    Create some buildings with foam boards and "papier maché" in order to show example for the next step.


    • Polyurethane foam
    • Foam board
    • Cutter
    • Ruler
    • Wallpaper glue
    • Paintbrush
    • White paper
    • Glue pistols

    Step 6: MAKE-Create the Model With the Students

    Each class comes to the workshop and after the health and safety speech, they start to build buildings, roads and the ideas they had before.

    Do not forget to display the drawings in order the children remind what ideas they had.

    Because the scale 1:250 is perfect for the district, but not for all the ideas they had, children can create bigger models for specific ideas with other scales.

    • Polyurethane foam
    • Foam board
    • Cutter
    • Ruler
    • Wallpaper glue
    • Paintbrush
    • White paper
    • Glue pistols
    • Scissors
    • Markers


    After each class made a part of the big model, assemble them all (5 parts here).

    Because, create a model is not enough to explain all the ideas they had, students need to prepare an oral presentation.

    In this presentation, they present how was the district before and how will it be after implementing their ideas. To do that, they created a board with 2 columns (BEFORE AND AFTER) where they put the pictures without and with drawings.


    For the final step, students needs to present in front of other classes their models and ideas they had. They do it by groups of 4 or 5.

    It is a very good exercise because an idea, a project, a building, a design can not be understand without a good pitch.

    For the exhibition, set up few things:

    • Trestles
    • Black fabric around the model
    • Lights
    • Small cardboards which explain ideas
    • Create a video summarizing all the steps.

    Step 9: CONCLUSION

    If you arrive at this step, you are certainly:

    • happy
    • exhausted
    • proud of the students
    • proud of yourself

    What did I personally learn ?

    • To teach to children
    • To explore the city in different views
    • A lot of artistic references
    • To create building with "papier maché"
    • To create a scenography for the exhibition

    What are my recommendation if you are the facilitator and what can we do better ?

    • Help the children to find more ideas for their future.
    • Improve the topography of the model.
    • Have more time to create the model.
    • Be 2 or 3 instructors when kids are making the model to help and survey.
    • Order the right size of van to move the models from the workshop to the school if needed.
    • Improve the communication between classes to have exactly the same process.
    • Never forget that a good maker always cleans his workshop after work.

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