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​This book discusses essential strategies and approaches to creating mentally restorative environments for highly stressed and depressed workers at sweatshop factories. Drawing on the Foxconn factory in Longhua, China and an adjacent urban village as a sample site for research and design practice, the book employs a bottom-up and participatory process. The content is divided into two main parts, the first of which investigates economic, cultural, human rights, and environmental issues related to the electronic industry and urban village, providing in-depth research on various aspects, especially the working and living conditions for Foxconn workers. Based on these findings, the second part highlights potential landscape designs to address a range of issues, locations, and scales. The book’s goals are to provide a set of original methods for research and design practice in a complex social and economic context, and to raise awareness regarding the health, dignity and freedom of millions of workers.



Introduction and Background Research


The Foxconn Factory Site, Methods, and Procedure for Design Interventions

The Pearl River Delta (PRD) is historically the manufacturing heartland of China and currently hosts some of the largest electronics manufacturers in the world. The resulting industrial structure, its related networks and physical space have a significant impact on the social, economic and ecological landscape of the region. The eventual post-industrialisation of the PRD – especially in light of the current economic slowdown and efforts to shift to tertiary industries – is particularly challenging and requires strategic urban restructuring of the region. However, conventional methods of urban planning often operate at urban or regional scale, overlooking the importance and agency of the individual in shaping their environments.
Bin Jiang

Understanding the Manufacturing Plant of Foxconn: Global Visions and Local Practices in the Labor Regime of China

In 2010, 15 young migrant workers committed suicide in the Foxconn Technology Group factories in Shenzhen City, China (East Week Magazine 2010). This startling tragedy brought global attention not only to Foxconn but also to sweatshops throughout China. In response, a group of Chinese academics advocated for justice for young migrant workers in China’s sweatshops (Chan and Pun 2010). In 2012, the Fair Labor Association (FLA) launched a special investigation of Apple’s assembly supplier factories and found excessive overtime and unsafe conditions among workers (FLA 2012). Some argue that the poor factory conditions are caused by the emergence of China’s monopoly capitalism brought about by the economic transformation and decentralization of local government and business (Guo et al. 2012). However, the larger context that has given rise to the Foxconn phenomenon has been less examined.
Ting Wang, Bin Jiang

Between Space of Factory and Community


Transformation of Prototype: A Planter Design Based on the Behavioral Characteristics of Residents

Qinghu Community is located in the north of the Foxconn factory. The majority of the residents are assembly-line workers from Foxconn and other factories.
Xianwei Long

Lonely Planets: Reorganize the Sequence of Effective Space in the Qinghu Community

Every planet has its track. The solitude and mundaneness leave workers confused and lost. Countless tracks are interlaced in the universe where planets come across every day, but they never encounter each other. Workers in the streamline factory revolve their days and nights between the factory and the urban village endlessly, as if they were orbiting planets.
Ming Yang

Here – There: A Scenario-Based Restorative Landscape System

The project aims to redefine the augmented reality (AR) into a scenario-based restorative landscape system for ‘being away’ in order to heal the mental stress for workers ‘here’ in the urban village. The scenarios are collected from interviews and interactive drama shows and are based on the deep desires of workers (Fig. 1).
Ting Wang

Made in Qinghu: Integration of Landscape Design and Public Art

The Qinghu Community is an urban village next to the Foxconn factory in Shenzhen. Like residents in other urban villages in the city, there are many outsiders here whose lives are repetitive. Their limited salaries trap those who have dreams. This is a desolate land—killing the nature of human beings and the germinating seed of dreaming invisibly. However, some ambitious people still try to bring vitality and color here. They say they need to have their own life besides working (Fig. 1).
Wing Tung Wong

Inside the Factory


Restorative Factory Intervention: Our Lens, Our Voice: A Deep Participatory Design Approach for Creating a Restorative Working Environment for Assembly Line Workers in a Foxconn Plant

Between January 2010 and April 2013, 19 suicide attempts happened at the industrial park of Foxconn, the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer at the time. These accidents were described as the spate jumps. The victims were within the age range of 17–25. Recent research and studies found that one of the reasons behind the spate jumps at Foxconn is long-term exposure to highly stressful working and living environments. Although a lot of scientific studies have suggested a positive relationship between stress relief and a well-organized landscape, currently there are very few industrial park designs targeting this specific issue. In fact, the current environment and landscape of Foxconn industrial park have been described to be monotonous, lifeless, and standardized. A new industrial design method needs to be implemented to address this problem. Talking to workers is the only way to know about the condition inside Foxconn since no one else is allowed to enter the park. Thus, participatory photo mapping (PPM) will be used to collect first-hand information about Longhua Foxconn park and workers’ opinions. The workers will have the freedom to share the places that have potential impact on their mental health. Then a standardized landscape assessment questionnaire will be used as a guide for analysis. Furthermore, interviews will be conducted to have a better understanding of the workers’ life to achieve a holistic design (Fig. 1).
Fengyu Bao

10′ 35′ and 90′: Multifunctional Landscapes in the Compact Manufacturing Plant

Various previous news coverages might have led us to the impression of Foxconn workers living in a tiny-caged dormitory and having an overwhelming workload, devoid of rest. As a matter of fact, the workers, on tight schedule, only have a 10-min break every 3 h of work, and they have a rest time of 35 min after finishing their meal at noon. Generally, when designing a green space for the general public, we always assume that people have plenty of time to visit the places we build. However, workers have a short break, so how do we provide them with multiple activities in such a limited time?
Shanshan Su

Riverfront Urban Space


Outside and Inside: Mental Healing Waterfront Space for Qinghu Residents

The Qinghu community is the main residence of Foxconn workers. Because of the narrow alleyways and handshaking buildings in this community, this is not an ideal environment for workers’ residence and activities. Their physical fatigue and stress caused by heavy work are hard to be eliminated in such environment (Fig. 1).
Qi Fan

River Guide: Participatory Design of River Front Landscape Intervention in Qinghu

Inspired by the walk with Mr. Li (a Foxconn worker), we chose the Guanlan River to be the site of this project. A site visit was conducted to understand the complex forces (cultural, social, economic, political and ecological) that influence the factory workers’ lives in the Qinghu Community. Besides, detailed landscape research and data collection were carried out to develop a critical landscape intervention to improve the site’s current situation (Fig. 1).
Leung Kong Chang

The Qinghu Community


Low End Plant - Persistent Growth: Spatial Vitalization of Handshaking Houses

Most workers in Shenzhen Foxconn came from neighboring provinces such as Hunan, Hubei, Guangxi, Jiangxi, and Guangdong. Working overtime is prevalent at Foxconn; the workers constantly struggle with heavy work while at the same time suffer from homesickness. They often use words such as “steel,” “weeds,” “homesickness,” and “moon” in their compositions and poems. In the alleys of the Qinghu Community are constructed with very high density, only a linear skyline can be seen between the buildings. In these dense alleys, there are many residences. An elderly pushing a stroller, children playing, and sanitation workers keeping the area clean are oftentimes the scenarios in these lively alleys (Fig. 1).
Danying Zheng

Joy Around the Corner: Outdoor Event Space for Children

The most beautiful sound in the world could be the sound of music, birds chirping, or flowing water. In Qinghu, the most fascinating scenery is the sound of happiness from the children playing around the streets and gardens. Children have unlimited imagination and creativity, and they could easily find spots and ways to play and enjoy within the dense neighborhood. Street corners are the gathering point that attracts people to rest, communicate, and play (Fig. 1).
Kitty (Ka Hei) Yuen

Visible-Invisible Frame: Discover the Aesthetic Moments Hiding in the Corner

This project is called ‘Visible/Invisible Frame’, with strategies to use the visible frame to dissolve the invisible frame (Fig. 1).
Siu Man Kwok


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