Jingru Cyan Cheng – Territory, Settlement, Home: A Project for Rural China

First Supervisor: Dr. Pier Vittorio Aureli
Second Supervisor: Dr. Sam Jacoby

Jingru Cyan Cheng is currently Director of the Architectural Association Wuhan Visiting School (Collective Forms in China) and a third-year PhD by Design candidate at the Architectural Association. Her research interest lies in cross-scale design issues in rural-urban regeneration at the levels of territory, settlement and home. Adopting research by design as the main working methodology, Cheng is especially interested in the relationships between built form and the socio-political formation of both the city and the countryside. Cheng has given presentations internationally and has established research and teaching collaborations between the UK and China through joint funding projects, visiting school programmes, academic symposia and so on, benefiting from extensive professional networks in both countries. In addition, she is the co-founder of ACROSS Architecture, an independent academic association consisting of Chinese AA alumni and current students.


The countryside is the new frontline of urbanisation in China. Through a centralised planning regime and on-going household registration reform, the Chinese state is extending the hierarchical urban structure to every single village. Rural territory, new rural settlements and the family home have become key instruments of the state apparatus in the process of appropriation, re-distribution and production. Eventually, through the fine grain of daily routine and social behaviour, desired subjects (a cheap labour force and a consumer class) are being constructed. The thesis is to identify the mechanisms of the planning strategies underpinned by the growth centre doctrine, the urban spatial template for consolidating rural settlements and the modern apartment and family house as transformative tools to bring urban lifestyle to the countryside. Spatial design is seen as a tool to problematise and understand the asymmetric relationships created by continuous capitalist accumulation – the process of urbanisation – and to shape alternative social relationships at the scales of territory, settlement and home.


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Photo by Tim Franco

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