Bringing vitality to campus
and weaving the in-person & online experience

Course Project
Product + Architecture Design
UX Research
Mobile + Physical Space

Take a Glance!

'Cheese!' was a course project of the Design Studio at Tsinghua University, aimed at renovating the school gate area of Tsinghua University. Through research, we identified 3 personas and the potential of bridging the campus & local community. To better elevate people's experience and cultivate long-term communication both on site & online, we extended the design scope from physical space to a mobile platform, building a virtuous circle to boost the site's vitality and enhance the campus's social impact.

My Role

Design Research
Ideation & Concept Development
Architecture & Landscape Design
UX/UI Lead
Wireframing & Prototyping

Team & Duration

2 students, 16 weeks


Figma, Photoshop,
Illustrator, InDesign,
Rhinocerous 3D, AutoCAD


How might we provide a platform where students, faculty, and visitors can interact joyfully to boost the site's vitality and maximize the campus's educative impact on society?

The West Gate entrance area of Tsinghua University (THU) is an important tourist spot for THU is one of the most influential colleges in China. However, it suffered from an uncomfortable environment, complex transportation, and a lack of activities. Its image presented to the society was solemn but cold, arresting but boring.

When exploring possible strategies to optimize the spatial environment, we also considered renovating this place to solve the campus's pain points and reform the connection between the college and visitors.

Final Solution

An enlightening, dynamic, and composite platform of both architecture & mobile product, creating the spirit of place and expanding the social impact of education

Conceptual Model

Key Features


In addition to identifying spatial problems, we also discovered 3 personas and pain point insights regarding the academic and social life on campus as a whole

Site Analysis

We did a thorough site analysis based on on-site observation and interviews, focusing on people's activities in the West Gate entrance area. We identified 3 fundamental problems with this area:


Based on observation on the spot, we categorized 3 different groups of people:
1) the university students who frequently come across the West Gate
2) the residents (mainly school faculty) living in the teachers' apartments nearby
3) the visitors from the outside society visiting the campus on sight-seeing, academic or business purpose

We hoped that the renovation of the area could elevate the experience covering multiple types of users with different behaviors and goals, so we interviewed 24 people (12 students, 6 residents and 6 visitors) and developed three personas:

Key Insights

Realizing that the entrance area is not merely related to the life of the university, but also an essential bridge between the academic circle and social community, we also extended our interview to include their expectations of the campus as a whole, with critical key findings as follows:


Mediate + Integrate: Reconstruct the spatial structure and build a product platform reorganizing people's activities to boost vitality and maximize the social impact of education

While a gate entrance to a university is a border between the society and the campus, we believed that it is also a symbol of education and knowledge:
The image and its attitude towards the society of the entrance reveals the philosophy of the university on education and social responsibility--hence, we proposed that the entrance area should be more like a bridge, a stage, a forum or, a park.


We identified that the traditional spatial structure of a 'gate' as a 'dot' might be the key to the problem:


Focusing on the importance of education and related behavior that can boost its impact, we discovered that there were two types of resources in this area:

1) the spatial resources of the river, green space, and pedestrian walk that can be transformed into comfortable locales for activities to take place;

"Integrate" Opportunity:
A park-like center that provides courtyards and indoor facilities for people to linger around and interact, and that has close access to surrounding "landmarks" that helps redirect people to their different destinations

It was inspiring to discover that with a strong relation to knowledge, academic progress, as well as arts and leisure, the activities of the students and faculties can greatly extend the social impact of education, once the locales are accessible to and strongly connected to the outer society.

"Integrate" Opportunity:
A mobile platform that assists the physical environment in organizing activities, providing information to explore this area, and motivating people to exchange ideas


I led the design principle of merging activity flows both on site and on mobile product: to provide ideal architectural spaces and expand the impact of campus life's educative values.

Impact & Feasibility

Scrutinizing the pain points and expectations, we summarized the key features of the spatial and activity resources and converted them into possible design strategies and actions. I used an impact-feasibility matrix to weigh the ideas in order to decide the core of the solution:

*The feasibility value was weighed based on consideration of finance, time and technique and the impact value based on further interviews with 6 campus students and 2 visitors. Though some actions might not have direct impact on the operation of events, they would improve the basic experience of the site - we considered those as necessary fundamental actions.

Focused Features

We developed from the matrix above and further concluded 4 focused features, combining various forms of platforms and regarding different personas. The focused features each displayed the capacity to solve pain points and other potential benefits.


Placing the features in users' actual scenarios and experiences, I also developed some storyboards to see how we can help people interact in this area and on the platform.

Activity Flows

Based on the storyboards and focused features, I sought to sort out the activity flows which connect on-spot activities with actions on the mobile product regarding different personas and types (on site / off site, pre-arrange / improvised).

Spatial Design

Space Generation

To achieve the design goals of mediating confrontations, integrating resources, and fulfilling focused features, we started by generating the proper forms of physical space in response to the challenges mentioned above.

Featured Space

Then we planned the basic functions of indoor space--leaving the outdoor open area at users' will. Additionally, we designed the details of space and infrastructures and proposed various combinations of activities and riverside landscapes.

Riverside Activities

Render & Visions

Product Design

Key Feature User Flows

1. Start an event and publish the news

2. Discover events and participate

3.Discover spots & posts, and post one's own

Hand Sketch Wireframing

Analyzing the possible scenarios when people would use such a product, we considered a mobile app the most appropriate. I quickly drew sketches of wireframes and pages of focused features regarding the user flows. We also made several iterations to help sort out each page's interactions and features and the overall information architecture.

Concepts on Data Generation

As previous user research revealed, the trigger of communication is as important as the surrounding environment and social platform.To ensure the positive feedback loop of activities and communications both on the spot and on the mobile platform, we believe that some auto-generated content beforehand is as essential as user-generated content.
So we did an experimental design thinking on how to collect and convert data of on-site activities and opinions to automatically generate content on the mobile platform that could attract people to the site and encourage communications.

Conceptual Model

User Testing + Iteration

Usability Workshop
While moving from lo-fi wireframes to hi-fi prototypes, I also led a usability test with a group of THU students to see if the prototypes matched user mentality, especially on key features such as hotspot map visualization and homepage information.

Identity & Style Guide

The name "Cheese!" derived from two aspects: 1) the morphology of the physical space; 2) the values and actions this project wanted to advocate. It was a sweet match between the two perspectives and also provided a cheerful tone.
The primary color was a lighter version of the symbol color (purple) of Tsinghua University. We added a blue color as a subsidiary, which contributed to this project's energetic, diverse, and trending identity.

Hi-fi Interface


Extending values and impact 🌈

The "a-ha" moment of our design exploration was when we realized the symbolic image of the entrance site and its potential to extend the values of campus activities further to society.
When we talked about education at school, we usually focused on academic records or achievements in research. It was essential to realize that both interdisciplinary communication and social interactions helped students' overall growth. And when they shared activities and ideas, society would greatly benefit from them as well.

The complementary relation between space and tech 🥨

Though previously focused on the ideation of architectural space, we also recognized the importance of applying product design and technology to help form the virtuous circle. Ideas and stories shared on the mobile platform transcended the limited space-time impact of on-site activities. Meanwhile, the physical world built a strong foundation for people to encounter and generate more ideas to be shared in the virtual world.
The time had changed for traditional architectural design. If we could grab the potential of different mediums and technologies, we could create a future more inspiring and cheerful.