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Rural Renaissance: Xu Tiantian, 11 May 2021

For the third talk in our Architecture Anew series, we invited Beijing based Xu Tiantian to discuss how her architecture practice has used design to support and sustain regional communities in China.

21 June 2021

The third event in our Architecture Anew talk series brought people together to discuss new ideas about the role of architecture in designing a more sustainable future.

Increasingly, the world's population is shifting to inhabit cities, but rural towns and villages still operate as homes and local economies for millions. How can architects support these communities and stimulate or enhance the ways in which they live? What role can architecture play in sustaining or building resilience into rural communities? Over the past six years, the Chinese architect Xu Tiantian has completed a series of considered small scale projects, with her practice DnA_Design and Architecture, across Songyang in rural China that directly addresses these questions.

Xu Tiantian founded her Beijing based practice in 2004 and has since built a reputation for revitalising traditional Chinese villages, through what the architect calls "architectural acupuncture." For Xu, this "acupuncture" strategy is about proposing minimal design interventions that can help achieve long term social, cultural, and economic balance and generate rural self confidence. An example of this approach is the Tofu Factory (2018) in the village of Caizhai, Songyang, where the design of a new building was coupled with digital infrastructure to allow the village to export its produce online. The success of this project was continued in Shantou Village, Songyang, with a new Rice Wine Factory (2019) that provides standardised and optimised spaces that facilitate large scale production, while simultaneously promoting rural tourism.


Xu Tiantian is the founding principal of DnA _Design and Architecture. She has received numerous awards such as the WA China Architecture Award in 2006 and 2008, the Architectural League New York’s Young Architects Award in 2008, the Design Vanguard Award in 2009 by Architecture Record and the Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architect in 2019.

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