Jane Rendell

As a writer, researcher and pedagogue, my work – individual and collaborative – over the past 25 years has explored various interdisciplinary intersections and transdisciplinary crossings: feminist theory and architectural history, fine art and architectural design, autobiographical writing and criticism, psychoanalysis and architecture, ethics and situated practice. This website contains all kinds of writing: including excerpts and abstracts of refereed articles, books, chapters, catalogue essays and transcripts of walks and talks to descriptions of projects and works.

I started out as an architectural designer and came to architectural history later, and then moved into teaching art practice, and now to writing art, architectural and cultural critique and teaching architectural history/theory and critical spatial practice and site-writing. I have established history/theory courses which bring processes from fine art practice and architectural design to inform the production of writings which operate between history/theory/criticism and design exploring the creative potential of critical writing as a form of critical spatial practice, most recently the MA Situated Practices at the Bartlett School of Architecture.

My early work on gender and architecture sought to develop a feminist practice of architectural history, and to draw autobiographical concerns into academic writing, specifically in an essay called ‘(Un)doing Architecture’ from 1998. Key publications include a sole authored book Jane Rendell, The Pursuit of Pleasure:  Gender, Space and Architecture in Regency London, (2002) and reader, Gender, Space, Architecture, (1999), co-edited with Iain Borden and Barbara Penner. And most recently I have returned to considering feminist critical spatial practice in two open access articles, Feminist Architecture: From A to Z’ (2018) and ‘Only Resist: A Feminist Approach to Critical Spatial Practice’, The Architectural Review (2018).

In response to my teaching of site-specific art, as the Course Director of The Theory and Practice of Public Art and Design (1998-2000) at Chelsea College of Art Design, I first coined the term  ‘critical spatial practice’ in ‘A Place Between Art, Architecture and Critical Theory’, Proceedings to Place and Location (Tallinn, Estonia, 2003), pp. 221-33 (published in English and Estonian), to describe works that operate between art and architecture, that test disciplinary limits, and intervene into sites in order to critique embedded power relations. I developed and consolidated these ideas in an authored book, Jane Rendell, Art and Architecture: A Place Between, (London: IB Tauris, 2006) and have recently been curating a website of related projects – www.criticalspatialpractice.co.uk. I recently reflected on the shift from critical spatial practice to situated practice due to the title of the new MA I co-initiated and teach on, in ‘Sites, Situations, and other kinds of Situatedness’, Bryony Roberts (ed), Expanded Modes of Practice, Special Issue of Log. 48, (2020), and contributed the Foreword: Critical Spatial Practice: Introductions and Adjustments’, and ‘Postscript: From Critical to Ethical Spatial Practice’, to Susannah Dickinson, Aletheia Ida and Jonathan Bean, (eds), The Unexamined, Critical Practices in Architecture and Place-Making (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2020).

In writing ‘about’ various art and architectural projects, I became aware the criticism was itself a form of critical spatial practice, and I developed the practice of ‘site-writing’ as a form of situated criticism. I used ’site-writing’ as a pedagogic tool through site-specific writing courses at the Bartlett from 2001, and then as a mode of spatializing art-writing in Jane Rendell, ‘Site-Writing’, Sharon Kivland, Jaspar Joseph-Lester and Emma Cocker (eds), Transmission: Speaking and Listening, vol. 4, (Sheffield Hallam University and Site Gallery, 2005), pp. 169–76. Site-Writing: The Architecture of Art Criticism (London: IB Tauris, 2010) brought together my own essays and text-works, and now www.site-writing.co.uk presents a collection of related projects by writers and artists including a quarterly review site Reading Writing Quarterly. – which releases dialogic and situated book reviews every equinox and solstice.

My recent research is concerned with the practice of ethics, and develops a mode of critical spatial practice that engages with the institutional structures that position writing subjects, from places of home to those of work, including the university itself, for example, ‘Critical Spatial Practice as Parrhesia’, special issue of MaHKUscript, Journal of Fine Art Research (2016) and ‘Activating Home and Work’ in Sandra Loschke’s edited volume Non-Standard  Architectural Production: Between Experience, Action and Critique, (2019). My two part essay After the Strike, reflects on the strike actions colleagues and students at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, took over a 14 day-period in winter/spring 2018 as part of the University and College Union (UCU) Pension Strike. This essay is structured as a two-stranded diary, weaving together textual materials taken from the Strike chronicle, edited by Barbara Penner, and s-t-r-i-k-e.org website, designed and produced by David Roberts, with critical reflections written in the present, concerning the current state of the neo-liberal university, discussing issues relating to pensions – namely institutional critique, ethics and equity, labour, work, precarity and care.

Following the home-related strand, one particular site-writing project entitled May Mo(u)rn 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. This forms one part of a tri-partite book on architecture, psychoanalysis and transitional spaces, published as The Architecture of Psychoanalysis by IB Tauris, in 2017, while Reactivating the Social Condenser, a special issue of The Journal of Architecture, co-edited with anthropologist Dr Michal Murawski, traces the history of the soviet social condenser as a radical concept and practice of social housing. During the COVID19 lockdown in the UK Jonathan Green from Blueprint on Australian ABC Radio interviewed me about The Architecture of Psychoanalysis and we discussed how spaces of analysis have changed in response to the pandemic crisis; while Michal asked me to contribute to a fantastic online portal piramMMMida, a project which engages power, planet, and plague, and curated by Denis Maksimov, Masha Mileeva, Michal Murawski, and David Roberts, which gave me the chance to share a new visual work, revisiting D. W. Winnicott’s notion of transitional space as a holding environment Seven Studies for ‘A Holding’, (23 March–31 May 2020).

Currently I am exploring the relation of ethics and poetics, drawing on Foucault’s work around writing’s ‘ethopoietic function’ and Joan Retallack’s ‘poethics’ through my own autobiographical writing, such as the fictionella Silver from 2016, part of the 40-book series, Lost Rocks, commissioned/curated/edited by A Published Event. ‘Silver: A Courtroom Drama’, for Gabu Heindl, Michael Klein, and Christina Linortner’s edited collection Building Critique, (Leipzig: Spector Books, 2020) is the transcript of a site-specific work for Sites of Love and Neglect, at which the Lost Rocks was first launched.

I am currently starting to research a history of auto-theory/fiction in feminist spatial writing, tentatively titled Selvedges, and my essay ‘Marginal modes: Positions-of-architecture-writing’, for the special issue of the Architectural Review, (September 2020), on criticism is a move in that direction.


‘For quite a while I have been following your research and writings with great interest and admiration. Your contributions to the expansion of theory and practice have been an important source of inspiration and encouragement for my own personal art/architectural research and curatorial investigations, and have helped bolster the ever-evolving trajectory of our organization. Thank you :)’

Carolyn Strauss, SLOW RESEARCH LAB


‘Your writings offer unending inspiration for both theoretical and design explorations into feminist, situated practice … both your previous scholarship on experimental feminist practices and your pedagogical work on Situated Practice at the Bartlett.’

Bryony W Roberts


‘Critical spatial practice has shaped so much of my thinking and approach to making art, teaching, and studying with and through the built environment.’

Dr Shauna Janssen, Assistant Professor | Specialization in Performance Creation | Department of Theatre, Affiliate | Department of Geography, Planning & Environment, Director | Institute for Urban Futures , Concordia University Research Chair | Performative Urbanism (2018-2023)

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