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【Cubic Zine Issue 11】Building a city and the community from within: Prof Ng Mee Kam’s take on urban planning

Where Ideas Root and Flourish

Let’s talk about people and the community this month! As Prof Ng Mee Kam suggests, we may reframe or refocus, “auditing” our intangible community resources from a strength-based perspective. The uncovered skills, inspirations or potentials can naturally be utilised to tackle issues in the community. Such way of thinking sounds very applicable to our personal lives too – especially during crises.

In this issue: #OneBiteSocial #DigitalNomadsVisa #Estonia #Placemaking #CommunityDesigner #Wellbeing

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Scholar-Social Innovator→ LOCAL

Building a city and the community from within: Prof Ng Mee Kam’s take on urban planning

Prof Ng Mee Kam, Department of Geography and Resources Management, CUHK (Photo: SoCUBE)

“The best kind of community planning needs no planning; the neighbourhood works together naturally.” In one-and-a-half hour, Prof Ng Mee Kam speaks of childhood anecdotes, city planning, placemaking and well-being, her musical laughter pervading our conversation.

Mee Kam is Professor of the Department of Geography and Resources Management and Associate Director of the Institute of Future Cities at CUHK. An urban planner herself, she keeps close tabs on sustainable development of cities, as well as people’s multifaceted well-being.

She and her team recently initiated the “Sustainable Communities Lab for People’s Multifaceted Well-being”, inviting district councillors and interested public members to learn to cocreate a sustainable place.

Read the full interview

【Scholarly keyword】Community designer

Community Design / Author: Ryo Yamazaki (Photo: eslite)

Whereas Mee Kam mentioned several times in her interview “community planning” and “placemaking”, “community design” is the current trend in Japan and Taiwan. Especially since Ryo Yamazaki wrote a few books on the concept, the term has become a buzzword in the field of social innovation, though it means more or less the same as what Mee Kam described.

A landscape designer, Yamazaki finds his actual job more like a community designer – not only working on visible spaces, but also the invisible social connections. Since 1999, he and his team drew up numerous user-oriented projects – from parks and festivals to schools and after-school pastimes of primary students. The idea sent reverberations across Japan and many followed suit.



Digital Nomads Visa|Estonia

Estonia puts forward a new policy to attract "slashies" from across the globe. (Photo: Unsplash)

Baltic state Estonia has a population of only 1.3 million. Known for its digital governance, almost all public services are accessible online. Since July, the country puts forward the first-of-its-kind Digital Nomads Visa, allowing freelancers with a stable income to apply for a one-year stay, travelling while working (what a dream).

The Financial Times reported Estonia’s enterprising feats to draw in foreign entrepreneurs. The e-residency programme launched in 2014 allows non-European Union individuals to form companies, leverage the country’s financial and tax systems, and run their businesses online from anywhere. 70,000 have acquired this status to date.

One Bite Social|Hong Kong

The revitalised Siu Hei Court Playground in Tuen Mun. (Photo: One Bite Design Studio)

“Architecture is inseparable from people.” CUHK alumna and architect Sarah Mui founded One Bite Design Studio in 2014. Championing a design model of “placemaking, connecting people and community”, One Bite specialises in public space-making projects. Their recent showcase – redesign of the multiuse sportsground above Siu Hei Court Carpark in Tuen Mun – features distinctive lines and brilliant colours, reinjecting life into the underused facility.

Their other initiative One Bite Social calls for community connection and empowerment. Amid the epidemic, they collaborated with JupYeah and kickstarted a three-month Food House project, distributing nutritious quality lunchboxes to the recently unemployed and economically disadvantaged.


Scholar-readers by CUHK Center for Entrepreneurship

Learning from forerunners

CUHK Entrepreneurs II / Editor: Prof Kevin Au

Starting up – some describes it as a high-risk act where few narrowly escapes from a bitter end, yet even more come up against the challenge. Before taking the plunge, reading up on the experiences of antecedents may save you from going the unnecessary long way.

Compiled by Prof Kevin Au (Department of Management, CUHK), CUHK Entrepreneurs II chronicled the unique narratives of 18 staff and alumni entrepreneurs, inspiring more to look for opportunities and utilise resources effectively for a greater chance at success.

Corporates discussed in the book range from listed companies to SMEs, some with steady businesses, others striving to scale up. Whether you’re interested in the tech industry, innovative business models or social enterprises, you will surely find a story that holds your attention.



Part of Team DeepHealth, including founder Prof Kelvin Tsoi (first from the right). (Photo: DeepHealth)

DeepHealth Health Webinar: Big data for prevention of high blood pressure

Speaking of CUHK entrepreneurs, we obviously can’t miss Prof Kelvin Tsoi from the Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care! Alumnus/Associate Professor of the University, he joined the ranks of academic entrepreneurs in 2018 when he established health management company DeepHealth, transforming years of research on medical big data into handy products, and bringing the benefits of cutting-edge tech into the community.

His first product – blood pressure management platform HealthCap – encourages members of the public to take measurements regularly, while helping users understand their risks of stroke and heart diseases for early prevention. Kelvin and his team will go live later this month. Join them for a casual session on blood pressure management and health tips!

28 Aug|15:00 – 16:00|Facebook live
Know more

Learning never stops! Other event recommendations:
【Workshop】Place qualities, sense of place and sense of well-being


CUHK's support to scholar-social innovators

CUHK runs two funding schemes that support researchers to get down to social innovation – KPF and S-KPF. Selected projects may receive up to HK$400,000 for KPF projects or HK$600,000 for S-KPF companies. Over 200 teams have already benefited from the schemes, working on physical and mental well-being, social cohesion, cultural and heritage conservation, and so on.

Can’t wait to seize your chance? Prepare for the next round by learning the details here. Or share with us your ideas to get ready in advance!



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One email to feed you the hottest info from the social innovation universe! Cubic Zine is a publication under CUHK ORKTS’s social innovation platform SoCUBE. We are excited to bring you stories on what CUHK and glocal social innovators are working on, events happening around you and much more!

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