East-West Studies in Architecture and Landscape

East-West studies

We have been welcoming PhD students from East Asian countries in architectural humanities since 1996, and in landscape humanities since 2002. At first they came to learn about Modernism in the West, drawing on our expertise, aware of our alternative history and publications in that field. But we found it equally necessary to engage with their far eastern context, education, and assumptions, for better understanding both of its ancient traditions and of its current attitudes and methods. Our first two architecture PhDs were both partially engaged with Chinese geomancy and its Daoist roots, bringing to light unfamiliar ways of thinking and representation. Their investigations also revealed something of the potential richness of the only ancient culture to rival the European base of Greece and Rome, and whose architecture has yet to see adequate recognition.

There followed other doctoral studies concerned with rationalism, craft, the vernacular architecture of the Chinese Dong minority, the oriental influences on Alvar Aalto, and the development of conservation in Malaysia. The case study of Japanese architect Tetsuro Yoshida, pursued by Hyon-Sob Kim post-doc with the help of an AHRC grant, opened up the complex question of go-betweens, for besides being one of the leading Japanese exponents of the International Style around 1930, Yoshida also designed houses continuing the Japanese carpentry tradition. It was these more traditional works that raised the enthusiasm of European Modernists like Häring, Hilberseimer and Asplund whom he visited, and they persuaded Yoshida to write his famous book on the Japanese house and garden.

Following Peter Blundell Jones’s sudden death in 2016, the work of the Centre was continued by Jan Woudstra, Department of Landscape Architecture, and was re-joined by Xiang Ren in 2018 from the School of Architecture, in order to revive the architecture and landscape dimension.

Current Members 

  • Dr Jan Woudstra (Landscape)
  • Dr Xiang Ren (Architecture)
  • Xiaolu Wang (Architecture and Landscape), PhD project – Mountain, Monastery, Medieval China
  • Najihah Ngaimin (Architecture), PhD project – Architecture and Urbanism in Putrajaya, Malaysia. 
  • Xiaozhi Yang (Landscape), PhD project – The Garden Culture of Wuxi China
  • Yang Yang (Architecture), Contemporary Architecture and Public Space in Tokyo
  • Abhishek Bhutoria (Architecture), PhD project – Himalayan Villages in Nepal

Research events (completed)

Peter Blundell Jones Memorial Lecture Series

  • Haobo Wei, “Up-to-the-Mountains & Down-to-the-Villages”, 26 November 2018
  • Prof. Nick Temple + Dr. Yun Gao, “The Temporality of Building”20 February 2019
  • Ben Stringer, “Planetary Villagisation”20 March 2019
  • Takeshi Hayatsu, “Community Architecture”, 2 April 2019
  • Prof. Adrian Pitts + Hung Thanh Dang, “The Shop-House in Vietnam”8 May 2019
  • Prof. Tang Hua, “Fragmented Architectural Discipline in the Digital Era”24 May 2019
  • Sheng-Yuan Huang, “Living with Sky, Water and Mountain”18 October 2019
  • Prof. Alfred B. Hwangbo, “British Presence in Korea 1883-1945: The modern Palace and Anglican Church”26 November 2019

Public Exhibition 

  • “Form of Silence, TangHua Architects, 12 Built Projects”,  24 May-June 2019 

East-West Seminar

  • “Built Heritages of Tradition and Modernity”, 13 November 2020
  • “Recent Research on Conservation” with visiting lecture by Dr. Fei Mo, The Shanghai Park System: Ecological versus historical considerations in the conservation of China's first greenspace network, 8 January 2020
  • “Living with Sky, Water and Mountain” with visiting lecture by Arch. Sheng-Yuan Huang and Dr. Cho Chen-yu Chiu, 18 October 2019
  • “Historic Landscapes in China and Vietnam”, 8 May 2019
  • International conference: ‘New research on the history of Chinese gardens and landscapes’, Centre for East-West Studies in conjunction with the Gardens Trust26 & 27 October 2017
  • Memorial Event – ‘A Celebration of the Life and Work of Peter Blundell Jones’, 16 November 2016
  • Symposium - 'Habits, Beliefs, and Tacit Knowledge: Everyday ritual in East Asian villages', 30 June 2016
  • 'Chinese Villages, Houses and Gardens',10 March 2016

Other events

  • Peter Blundell Jones Archive, 2020 ongoing
  • Peter Blundell Jones Memorial Travel Grant, 2020 ongoing

Completed PhDs on East Asian topics supervised by late Professor Peter Blundell Jones

  • Bong Hwangbo, 'In search of alternative traditions in architecture - a cross-cultural interdisciplinary study', completed March 2000.
  • Su-ju Lu, 'Dialogue with Feng Shui: An awareness of Chinese traditions', completed October 2002.
  • Tae Woong Kang, 'In search of rationalism in the architecture of Hendrik Petrus Berlage', completed February 2005.
  • Hyon Sob Kim, 'A study on Alvar Aalto and his experimentation in Villa Mairea', completed June 2005.
  • Xuemei Li, 'Chinese "Wind and Rain" Bridges - origins, forms and construction', completed October 2007.
  • Young-Jun Kim, 'Traditional Houses and their Continuity in England and Korea', completed 2009.
  • Jayson Hsin-Yin Huang, 'Architecture of British Consulates in China,' completed October 2010.
  • Bing Jiang, ‘City Gates in China’, completed 2014.
  • Hui-ju Chang, ‘Japanese Victorian Architecture in Taipei’, completed 2017.
  • Chomchon Fusinpaiboon, ‘Development of Modern Architecture in Thailand’, completed 2014.
  • Jianyu Chen, Yingzao fayuan: The Conflicts and Harmonies between Two Chinese Architectural Education Systems in 1923-1937, completed 2017.
  • Derong Kong, ‘Carpenter, Architecture and Phenomena Among the Dong People in South West of China’, completed 2017.
  • Xiang Ren, ‘Socially-engaged Architecture in Chinese Traditional Villages’, completed 2017.
  • Completed PhDs on East Asian topics supervised by Dr Jan Woudstra and accompanying publications
  • Jijun Zhao, 'Thirty years of landscape design in China (1949-1979): The era of Mao Zedong', PhD, 2008
  • Sang Jung Yoon, 'History and conservation of gardens in Korea', PhD, 2009
  • Kairan Li, 'Landscape improvement and Scenic Sites in pre-modern China: a critical review', PhD, 2009
  • Lei Gao, ''Breaking and repairing': Conflicting values in the historic gardens of China', PhD, 2010
  • Hae Joon Jung, ‘Landscape as Heritage: A critical assessment of the value-based approach for the use of protecting Korean Scenic Sites’, completed 2015
  • Fei Mo, ‘The Evolution of the Urban Landscape of Shanghai (1843-1949)’, completed 2016
  • Josepha Richard, ‘The Hong merchant’s Gardens during the Canton System and the aftermath of the Opium Wars’, completed 2018
  • Jingjing Liu, ‘Front Gardens as Mirrors of Attitudes: Form and function of front gardens in urban contexts’, completed 2018.
  • Liyuan Gu, ‘History and Conservation of Rockwork in Gardens of Imperial China’, completed 2018. (
  • Jie Tang, ‘The Chinese Grand Canal World Heritage Site: Living heritage in the 21st century?’, completed 2018
  • Youcao Ren, Bionic metaphor in Feng shui: connection between humans and landscape, completed 2019

Selected Recent Research Outputs 

Jan Woudstra is currently preparing a book on the landscape gardener, Robert Marnock (1800-1889), who regularly corresponded with his brother-in-law Benjamin Hobson (1816-1873), a medical missionary whose publications greatly influenced medical practice and anatomy in China and Japan.

Other recent publications:

  • Jan Woudstra, ‘Dealing with the consequences of climate change in historic parks and gardens in the United Kingdom’, in Reinhard F. Hüttl, Karen David, Bernd Uwe Schneider, Historische Gärten und Klimawandel (Berlin/ Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2019), pp.337-348, 420-1. ISBN 978-3-11-060748-2.
  • Jan Woudstra, ‘Landscape gardening and the metropolis: Reptonian influences on Nash’s transformation of St James’s Park, 1814-30’, Garden History 47: suppl. 1 (2019), pp.85-106.
  • Jan Woudstra, ‘”one of the ablest landscape gardeners”: Edward Kemp (1817-1891) in a nineteenth- century professional context’, Garden History 46: suppl. 1 (2018), pp.32- 50.  
  • Jan Woudstra, ‘Obstanbau in den königlichen Gärten von Schloss Hampton Court (1530-1842)/ La frutticola nei Giardini reali del castello di Hampton Court a Londra (1530-1842)’, in Stefanie Krihning (ed.), Obstgärten, Produktionsstätten, Bedeutungsträger, Kulturdenkmale: Das Brixner ‘Pomarium” im geschichtlichen und gartenbaulichen Kontext/ Frutteti, Luoghi di produzione, ogetti simbolici, monumenti culturali: Il ‘Pomarium” di Bressanone nel contest storico dell’arte dei Giardini  (Görlitz: Gunter Oettel, 2018), pp. 154-167. ISBN 978-3-944560-44-1. 
  • Jan Woudstra, ‘Designing the garden of Geddes: The master gardener and the profession of landscape architecture’ Landscape and Urban Planning 178 (2018), pp.198-207.
  • Xiang Ren (2020), ‘Thin Mask, Thick Mnemonic: the idea of the wall and genius loci in two contemporary buildings’, Architecture Research Quarterly, volume 24, issue 1, pp. 37-48.
  • Xiang Ren (2020), ‘Towards Openness: the uncompleted project of Modernism and its living tradition in contemporary China’, Journal of Architecture, volume 25, issue 4, pp. 650-657
  • Xiang Ren (2020), ‘Reading Grassroots Architecture in Beijing’s Conservation Area - Hutong Mushroom’, Architecture Research Quarterly, volume 24, issue 3, pp.295-298
  • Xiang Ren (2019), ‘An Other Concinnitas, Temporality and Renewability in the Yuanlin Zhang Gallery’, Scroope: Cambridge Architecture Journal (28), pp. 60-73.

Flagship institutes

The University’s four flagship institutes bring together our key strengths to tackle global issues, turning interdisciplinary and translational research into real-world solutions.