Critical Spatial Practices in China

curated by Virginia Lui and Aki Lee

This lecture series examines critical spatial practices in China — exploring its critical and transformative potential as a practice on the interface of socially-engaged art, architecture and urbanism. It focuses on practitioners and researchers working within top-down processes and artistic strategies that employ public participation as a condition to empower civil society towards spatial change.

Critical spatial practices, termed by Jane Rendall, are contextualised through a Chinese lens. Instead of redefining the term concretely, we explore the complex dynamics at stake: social, political, cultural and ethical. We examine the ethics of situated practices and the problematics of design neocolonialism — addressing issues of privilege, implicit biases and power as practitioners in their day-to-day work. Within Chinese state-driven urban regeneration, the navigation of the challenges of working within top-down frameworks becomes a given. A deeper investigation into the tactics developed by practitioners provide insights into current ways of working. Furthermore, we investigate the temporal and immaterial aesthetics of spatial practices that lean towards dialogical, situated and process-oriented rather than object-based outcomes.

This talk series was curated by Virginia Lui and Aki Lee, support by the Social Design Studio at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, with an extra space support from Institute for Provocation/Bejing.

9 Pre Lectures (ca. 20min. each)
3 Panel Discussions (40min. discussion 20min. Q&A)


Winter Semester 20/21