China’s hyper-speed modernisation process generates complex problems demanding new approaches to designing equitable, integrated, liveable, urban and rural places. The Chinese hinterland city of Chongqing’s vast urban and rural area provides rich opportunities for investigating how art and design can help address related live ability and place-making challenges. This research aims to use Sino-Australian co-design to test how participatory urban media (large and small interactive screens, installations, façades, and devices) can act as a dialogic interface between diverse community, industry, and government stakeholders to increase our capacity to manage regional urban place-making problems. Our paper presents three empirical perspectives critically reflecting on a two-day co-design workshop conducted in Chongqing during December 2019 prior to the COVID19 pandemic. Informed by our own observations, and insights contributed by participating urban planners, architects, artists, designers, local government, academics, and students, we take a multi-vocal approach to evaluating the workshop methods, outcomes, and interactions. The unfolding narrative illustrates how transcultural and interdisciplinary co-design processes are entangled in language, local knowledge and traditions, socio-cultural hierarchies, different disciplinary fields and levels of professional status, as well as assumed Western design histories and local understandings of the role of art and design in relation to society. We argue these factors also influence the presentation of knowledge in academic writing about design. This highlights the urgent need for pluriversal modes of co-design, research through design, and scholarship about design which can inclusively impact and respond to the diverse needs of the new international situation and our shared urban futures.