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Title: Hybrid building and hybrid practitioner : understanding and transforming Chinese rural villages through architecture of social engagement
Author: Ren, Xiang
ISNI:       0000 0004 6495 0785
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2017
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The emerging problems from the rapid rural urbanization under the top-down ideologies and approaches in contemporary China have challenged the very fundamental definitions of architecture and architects originated from the Western discourse. It is within this broader context that this thesis started from an attempt to embed a thicker interpretation of Chinese rural villages in the major debates of contemporary architecture. Through conceptualizing and exploring an alternative form of architecture, the thesis aims to understand the up-to-dated situations and seek a sustainable path to transform Chinese rural villages under the current hegemonic urbanization. The form is manifested in the twin concepts – ‘hybrid building’ and ‘hybrid practitioner’, both emerged from and rooted in the rural-urban realities in the transitional China, and provide a modus operandi for a bottom-up architecture of social engagement. The first part of the thesis briefly interrogates the accumulated past and the present realities of Chinese rural villages from political, legislative, economic, cultural and social perspectives, which constitute the immediate operating context for architectural design and engagement in all its complexities and contradictions. The second part explores and examines six selected architectural cases and their overlooked production of objects, processes and infrastructures in Chinese rural villages from 2006 to 2016, narrating an architectural modus operandi of hybridity, of engagement, and of social sustainable transformation. Based on social-anthropological field research and socially-engaged architectural action learning, the thesis concludes that hybrid building and hybrid practitioner as an alternative form of architecture will not only navigate into the system of decaying villages, but also transform it in a more socially-resilient way, by prompting architectural activisms and triggering architectural hybridity from within the very fabric of Chinese rural villages. The thesis aimed to be the first attempt to place contemporary architectural design practice in Chinese rural villages within a broader framework combining anthropology and activism.
Supervisor: Blundell Jones, Peter ; Kossak, Florian Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available