Future100: Tingxin Zheng Envisions Empathic Solutions for Disparate Environments

This student uses empathy as a portal to arrive at authentic visions for environments from temporary Tibetan shelters to multigenerational coworking spaces.

tingxin zheng
Encamp is a way station made of temporary shelter modules, which Tingxin Zheng conceived for travelers to Mount Kailash in Tibet. Fusion, a coworking space imagined with play areas for workers’ children, toys with textures on the fifth plane. Courtesy Tingxin Zheng

To create spaces that support users physically and emotionally, designers must be able to put themselves in the shoes of the building occupants. In her interior design portfolio, Savannah College of Art and Design student Tingxin Zheng demonstrates that skill. In fact, her selection of work shows an impressive ability to imagine what users might want in a wide variety of settings. From temporary Tibetan shelters to multigenerational coworking spaces, Zheng’s work shows her keen attunement to these needs.

A native of Shenzhen, China, Zheng grew up in an environment of rapid urbanization. The hustle and bustle of her hometown inspired her to create a scheme titled Tetris, named after the block-based video game, which accelerates as it progresses. “Shenzhen is a fast-growing city and lots of people are going there looking for jobs,” she explains. “I thought it might be good to give them a place to slow down.” Imagined as “breathing room” for low-income residents, Tetris features enclaves for varied levels of privacy and openness, along with versatile partitions that can be used to reconfigure space over the course of the day.

tingxin zheng
Courtesy Tingxin Zheng

In another project titled Encamp, Zheng designed modular, temporary shelters for travelers to Mount Kailash in Tibet. These structures, which she conceived as transportable, sustainable, and built from local materials, would allow both secular tourists and religious pilgrims to commingle or enjoy some exchange while maintaining autonomy.

Then Zheng appropriates the lens of an office worker and deftly imagines a coworking space in Savannah, Georgia. For this concept, she demonstrates further sensitivity to the act of social exchange in the context of having adult coworking spaces and childcare under a single roof. “This space provides choice for parents,” she says. “Maybe you get a coffee and check on your children. Our culture is bad at such connections. That’s why I wanted this continuous feeling of wandering into spaces.”

tingxin zheng
Courtesy Tingxin Zheng

Visit metropolismag.com/future100 to see more groundbreaking student work.


Savannah College of Art and Design

Undergraduate Interior Design

NOMINATOR: Sybil Barrido, Associate Chair of Interior Design

Whether it’s a structure for a religious pilgrimage or a coworking concept that incorporates childcare, Zheng shows an amazing capacity for designing user-led environments.

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