Dr Xiang Ren
B.Arch, MA (Dist), PhD, FHEA
School of Architecture
My research and teaching lies in the search for the reinvention of the discipline of architecture from within its own traditions.
I aim to construct theories related to the foundations of the domain of architecture, which is rooted in and derived from the works of recent history (Modernism and after) and contemporary architectural design practice.
I graduated with a professional degree in architecture and worked for award-winning practices, before received my PhD and qualified as a Fellow of Higher Education Academy from Sheffield School of Architecture.
Prior to joining our School, I lectured in Interior Architecture course at Sheffield Hallam University.
- Research interests
I am interested in form, type, use, structure, composition, material, tectonics, topography, atmosphere and the relationships of these topics with other intellectual disciplinary settings and professional developments from the early Modernism period till nowadays.
I have also maintained a long-time interest in pre-modern architecture and settlements and historical built environment, particularly in East-Asian and Southern European cultural contexts.
My growing interest in social architecture and architectural anthropology was traced in my PhD research, which focused on contemporary socially-engaged architecture and architects in traditional Chinese villages, using case study as the main method, intersecting with social anthropology and design activism methodologically.
I was invited to present in various academic conferences and symposiums including UCD Dublin, KU Leuven Brussels, HKW Berlin, UPC Barcelona, Milano Polytechnic, University of Oxford and University of Cambridge.
PhD Supervision Interests
- Architectural history and theory of 20th century, Modernism and after
- Social and cultural anthropological studies of building and settlement
- Vernacular, participative and socially-engaged architecture
- Rapid urbanism and traditional villages
- Architectural disciplinarily viable knowledge production and dissemination
- Architectural research practice and design research
- Towards Openness: The uncompleted project of Modernism and its living tradition in contemporary China. Journal of Architecture.
- China's Architecture in a Globalizing World: Between Socialism and the Market. The China Journal, 84.
- View this article in WRRO Thin mask, thick mnemonic: the idea of the wall and genius loci in two contemporary buildings. ARQ: Architectural Research Quarterly, 24(1), 37-48.
- View this article in WRRO An 'other' concinnitas : temporality and renewability in the Yuanlin Zhang Gallery. Scroope Journal(28), 61-73.
- Anonymous Process and Absent Architect: Behind the Scenes of Chinese Rural Regeneration. Architecture and Culture, 6(1), 145-154. View this article in WRRO
- Padley Mill: A Question of Interpretation. Heritage Architecture, 3(1), 71-82.
- 深度勘查，图绘转译和设计介入：英国谢菲尔德大学建筑学专业硕士研究型教学解析. 城市建筑, 2017(10)(No.261), 18-23.
- Xiang Ren on an organic connection with China. Architecture and Ritual: How Buildings Shape Society By Peter Blundell Jones London, Bloomsbury, 2016. Architectural Research Quarterly, 21(3), 277-280. View this article in WRRO
- Rural face, urban mask: Architecture of communal form and collective practice in two chinese villages from 2010 to 2015. Architecture and Culture, 5(1), 57-76. View this article in WRRO
- Clan-Community Hall. The RIBA Journal.
- Architecture as Catalysts. Xin Jianzhu: New Architecture.
- Socially engaged architecture in a Chinese rural village: Xihe Village Community Centre, 2014. Architectural Research Quarterly, 20(2), 119-130. View this article in WRRO
- Archi-infrastructure as Urban Patchworks & Generators: The Ongoing London Crossrail (2008-2019) Project. Time+Architecture, 32(2).
- Live, Social-engagement and transformative value -- Research-led teaching in the first year at the Sheffield School of Architecture[任翔, 康健（2015）活性，社会参与性和转变性--英国谢菲尔德大学建筑学院本科一年级研究型教学解析. 世界建筑导报,5期 (总 165)，45-47页]. World Architecture Review(5), 45-47.
- Hybridization, Landform, and Catalyst Buildings -- Interpretation on Two Libraries Designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects. Architecture Technique & Art, 04.
- The Elementary School at Arnulfpark in Munich by Hess Talhof Kusmierz Architekten. Xin Jianzhu: New Architecture, 152.
- Reflection on Le Corbusier: an interview with Peter Blundll Jones. Xin Jianzhu: New Architecture, 02, 14-16.
- The Absence of Pictorial Characterization and the Presentation of Regional Imagination: Notes on the Design of No. 45 High School in Hefei City. Architecture Technique & Art, 12.
- A Form of Resistance: A Barefoot-architect’s Own House In Gosseye J & Doucet I (Ed.), Activism at Home: Architects’ Own Dwellings as Sites of Resistance. Leipzig, Germany: Spector Books.
- Tailor, Mason, Intellectual, Peasant: An Alternative Architect towards Sustainable Regeneration in Rural China In Zuo J (Ed.), Bi Shan Beijing, China: Chinese National Geography - CITIC Press.
Conference proceedings papers
- Towards a Historic Rural Landscape: theoretical framework with a Chinese Rural Village Regeneration Design Study. 2019 Sino-European Forum on Vernacular Heritage. Jinan, China, 26 October 2019 - 27 October 2019.
- Towards a Historic Urban Landscape: principles and approaches in two built heritage and landscape regeneration projects in the Yorkshire region of England. AESOP 2019 International Conference ‘Planning for Transition’. Venice, 9 July 2019 - 13 July 2019.
- Activism at Home: A Barefoot-Architect’s Version. Activism at Home. Manchester, 15 January 2018 - 16 January 2018.
- Ming-Tang as both Architecture and Infrastructure for Chinese Traditional Festivals. Architecture, Festival and the City. Birmingham, 16 November 2017 - 18 November 2017.
- Design Research in Practice: Reflection on an ongoing project through the lens of hybrid practitioner. ARENA Design Research (in) Practice. University of Reading, 21 April 2016 - 22 April 2016.
- Textual practice of buildings by carpenter-architect and barefoot-architect. Writing Buildings. Canterbury, 14 July 2016 - 16 July 2016.
- Listening to the Ancestral Hall -- Architecture of Silence. The Place of Silence. University of Edinburgh, 22 June 2016 - 24 January 2016.
- Social Architecture in Rapid Rural-Urban Transition in China from 2005 to 2015. Visible and Invisible Challenges -- Transformations in Contemporary China. University of Oxford China Center, 20 May 2016 - 21 May 2016.
- Readdressing Critical Regionalism: Critical Architecture of Resistance in Rural-Urban China. Regional Urbanism in the Era of Globalization. Huddersfield, 4 February 2016 - 5 February 2016.
- Professional Theory, Amateur Practice. This Thing Called Theory. Leeds, 19 November 2015 - 21 November 2015.
- The Structure of Ordinary: Ancestral Hall Building in Hui Vernacular Settlement in China. Architecture, Education and Society. Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, 3 June 2015 - 5 June 2015.
- Hybrid Architectural Interventions in Chinese Villages. Architecture of Alterity. University of Edinburgh, 25 May 2015 - 27 May 2015.
- Hybrid Building Narratives. ARENA Architecture Research Moments. KU Leuven, Brussels, 30 January 2015 - 31 January 2015.
- Rural Skin, Urban Masks: Hybridization at the Edge of Contemporary Chinese cities. Hybridization Design Strategies / Key Concepts, Researches and Projects(4). Politecnico di Milano, 3 November 2014 - 4 November 2014.
- Translating Vernacular Hybridity into a Living Matrix -- Reflections on the production and occupation of a School Building. Architecture and Education, 3 September 2014 - 5 September 2014.
- Form of Silence: Tanghua Architects, 12 Built Projects. The Arts Tower, University of Sheffield.
- Whisper of the Rural Vernacular: Drawings, Designs, Buildings. The Bridge Gallery, University of Westminster’s Marylebone Campus, London, 20 February - 15 March 20.
- Provincial Bureau of Construction New Workplace Building Design and Research. Provincial Bureau of Construction, Hefei city, China, 21 October - 21 November 2011.
- China’s ‘barefoot architects’ are transforming left-behind rural villages, August 22, 2019, THE CONVERSATION.
- Teaching activities
I contribute to the research-led teaching in architectural humanities and design at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels at Sheffield School of Architecture, and I am a member of its prestigious Centre for East-West Studies in Architecture and Landscape.
- ARC 125 Architectural Design 1
- ARC 126 Architectural Design 2
- ARC 204 Humanities 4
- ARC 322 Special Studies
- ARC 6874 Conservation and Regeneration Principles and Approaches
- ARC 6986 Architectural Design Project 1
- ARC 6987 Architectural Design Project 2
- ARC 6988 Thesis Project