The Bartlett School of Architecture

Prof Jane Rendell

Prof Jane Rendell

Professor of Architecture and Art

The Bartlett School of Architecture

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
26th Sep 1994

Research summary

My current research aims to perform in writing a new kind of criticism, one which draws out the spatial qualities of the critic’s engagement with a work. These include the sites  – material, emotional, political and conceptual – of the work’s construction, exhibition and documentation, as well as those remembered, dreamed and imagined. This research configures what happens when discussions concerning situatedness and site-specificity enter the practice of writing. Material from my new book Site-Writing: The Architecture of Art Criticism has been delivered as 14 international keynotes, and over 50 invited international talks in galleries/museums, and university settings, such as Tate Modern, Serpentine Gallery, Whitechapel, Hayward and ICA in the UK, and so far in 2011, Museum of Public Art, Denmark, and Temple Art Gallery, Philadelphia. Sections have been translated into Armenian, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish.

My earlier research on gender and space in early nineteenth-century London was published as a sole authored book Jane Rendell, The Pursuit of Pleasure:  Gender, Space and Architecture in Regency London, (London: Continuum and New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2002) and translated into Japanese and German, and Gender, Space, Architecture, (1999) co-edited with Iain Borden and Barbara Penner. And my research into art and architecture, where I coined the term 'critical spatial practice', to describe works that intervene into sites in order to critique them, has been published as Jane Rendell, Art and Architecture: A Place Between, London: IB Tauris, September 2006). Between 1996 and 2006 I also published 2 edited and 6 co-edited collections of essays dealing with different aspects of architecture and interdisciplinarity. An ongoing project entitled May Mo(u)rn is a site-writing which takes a collection of abandoned black and white photographs of modernist architectural icons found in a derelict arts and crafts house called 'May Morn' as a starting point for a discussion of London's post war social housing projects. Morn and mourn are homonyms, one suggests a beginning, the other an ending. Morning begins the day, while mourning – in grieving the loss of something or someone – marks an ending. Due to their deteriorating material states, the house and photographs point towards their own disintegration – or endings, yet the buildings contained within the photographs are shown at the beginning of their life. What does it mean, now, to turn back and examine these icons of modernism at an early moment – a spring time. This text-image work juxtaposes resurgence and decay, siting a fascination with the backwards gaze of nostalgia in relation to anticipation as a yearning that moves forward.

Since 1994 my research has focused on exploring the relationship between architecture and other disciplines – feminist theory and architectural history, art and architecture, autobiographical writing, psycholanalysis and criticism – through individual and collaborative international research projects.

Teaching summary

I have been teaching post- and under-graduate students in art and architecture, in both studio and in history/theory/critical studies, for the past 17 years in Art Colleges and Architecture Schools. In that time I have been responsible for writing and delivering over 20 new modules, directing one MA in the Theory and Practice of Public Art and Design (Chelsea College of Art 1996-8) and initiating two new MA Programmes. The interdisciplinary BA and MA teaching modules and courses I have developed evidence a close relationship with my research. 

At the Bartlett, on the MArch Programme, and through the MA Architectural History, in the MA Module ‘Theorising Practices’, which I have led since 2002 students develop innovative ways of ‘writing architecture’; this involves working with artists and poets, using workshops and design-based crits as teaching modes. 

I have also conducted 'site-writing' workshops with students in KTH, Stockholm; RMIT; The University of Tasmania; The University of South Australia; and later this year at the Prague Quadrennial and the University of Calgary

I have been developing a new area of PhD research which examines critical writing as form of spatial practice and has attracted PhD students internationally, many of whom have obtained scholarships to study at UCL, from their home countries, with 4 receiving UCL Scholarships and 6 AHRC Scholarships. 9 have submitted their thesis, and I am currently first supervisor for 8 students: artists, architects, historians and theorists


Birkbeck College
PhD, Architecture | 1998
University College London
MSc, History of Architecture | 1994
University of Edinburgh
DipArch, Architecture | 1992
To be updated
BA Hons, Architecture | 1988


An architectural designer and historian, art critic and writer, my work has explored various interdisciplinary intersections: feminist theory and architectural history, fine art and architectural design, autobiographical writing and criticism. I am author of Site-Writing: The Architecture of Art Criticism (2010), Art and Architecture (2006), The Pursuit of Pleasure (2002) and co-editor of Pattern (2007), Critical Architecture (2007), Spatial Imagination (2005), The Unknown City (2001), Intersections (2000), Gender Space Architecture (1999) and Strangely Familiar (1995).

I am on the Editorial Board for ARQ (Architectural Research Quarterly), Haecceity, The Happy Hypocrite, The Issues and the Journal of Visual Culture in Britain, a member of the AHRC Peer Review College (2004-2008) and chair of the RIBA President's Awards for Research (2005-2007). In 2006 I was a research fellow at CRASSH (Centre for Research in Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities) at the University of Cambridge and received an honorary degree from the University College of the Creative Arts, and in 2008 I was awarded Research Leave from the AHRC to complete my site-writing book.

I been invited to write about artists such as Jananne Al Ani, Daniel Arsham, Bik Van Der Pol, Nathan Coley, Janet Hodgson, Jane Prophet, Tracey Moffatt, Adriana Verajao, Richard Wentworth, and the Estonian Pipe Line project exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2008. My talks and texts have been commissioned by galleries, for example, the Baltic, Gallerie Emmanuel Perotin, the Hayward, the Kunstmuseet Koge Skitsesamling, Kunstmuseum Thon, the Serpentine, the Tate, the Wapping Project and the Whitechapel.