The essay shows a critical reﬂection on different forms of intensive courses (such as workshops and seminars) and on possible design outcomes. The research studies how to teach architectural design subjects is changing and how forms of ‘open’ learning could help to overcome barriers and disciplinary boundaries. In particular, the essay describes some experiences of intensive workshops conducted in recent years by the Politecnico di Milano in collaboration with Universities in China and India, supporting on one hand a better and deeper knowledge of other contexts, on the other, questioning the traditional teaching methodologies of the architectural design in favor of more dynamic processes. The investigated contexts lead students to reﬂect on the meaning of the architectural design and on its different forms in contemporary scenarios. The article describes the deﬁnition of these research and design activities and the principles that led to the formulation of programs and topics, useful to form student more aware of dynamic sand transformations underway in contemporary cities.