Current Work: DnA_Design and Architecture

Beijing-based architect Xu Tiantian presents her firm's recent projects in rural China.

May 31, 2022
7:00 p.m.

DnA_Design and Architecture | Huiming Tea Space, Jingning She Autonomous County, China, 2020. Image credit: Wang Ziling

Current Work is a lecture series featuring leading figures in the worlds of architecture, urbanism, design, and art.

The spring 2022 Current Work series focuses on architectural practices designing museums, schools, and cultural centers that contend with the complex legacies of place. 

DnA_Design and Architecture is an interdisciplinary practice founded in Beijing, China, in 2004. Its founding principal, Xu Tiantian, practices what she calls “architectural acupuncture”: a subtle, localized approach to the revitalization of rural China’s built environment. In collaboration with village communities and provincial governments, DnA has built over 20 public structures in China’s mountainous Songyang County and other rural regions. Using natural materials and local craft, its work celebrates each site’s cultural heritage while opening new social and economic futures in the places where it works. 

Recent projects include:

  • Hakka Indenture Museum, a village museum that incorporates the site’s original irrigation pattern into its design;
  • Huiming Tea Space, a workshop that showcases the local tea production process and functions as a sundial for the Chinese zodiac;
  • Jinyun Quarries, an ongoing transformation of nine abandoned quarries into public spaces for social and cultural activities.

Xu Tiantian received a master’s degree in urban design from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and a baccalaureate in architecture from Tsinghua University in Beijing. She has received numerous awards, including The Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers, the Design Vanguard Award, two WA China Architecture Awards, and The Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture. In 2020, she was appointed an honorary fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Xu’s work is included in the current MoMA exhibition, Reuse, Renew, Recycle: Current Architecture from China.

The lecture will be followed by a conversation and Q&A with Calvin Tsao. A founding principal of Tsao & McKown Architects, Tsao serves on the boards of the American Academy in Rome and The Architectural League of New York.


This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

The event is co-sponsored by The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union.