The Songyang Story

The Songyang Story

Architectural Acupuncture as Driver for Rural Revitalisation in China. Projects by Xu Tiantian, DnA_Beijing

Architectural acupuncture works: how architect Xu Tiantian’s interventions change communal life in rural China and what lessons can be learned from them




Edited by Kristin Feireiss and Hans-Jürgen Commerell. With essays by Eduard Kögel, Saskia Sassen, Remy Sietchiping, Martino Stierli, Wang Jun and Xu Tiantian

1st edition

, 2020

Text in English


272 pages, 139 color and 72 b/w illustrations and plans

29.5 x 29.5 cm

ISBN 978-3-03860-186-9


Architecture can revitalize, spark rural self-confidence, and turn wasteland into a welcoming space—and it can do it at a low cost. This is the mission statement of architect Xu Tiantian, founder and principal of Beijing-based studio Design and Architecture (DnA). In 2014, Xu began to work in the remote Songyang County in China’s Zhejiang Province. Her holistic concept does not engage in erasing existing structures but is instead guided by the concept of Architectural Acupuncture, which prefers smaller interventions to extensive redevelopments, and which has gained much recognition as a model for similar regions around the world. For Xu, architecture as a language should address the traditions of Songyang County—each solution is unique; only the small budget is common to all of them. Yet all of them are interrelated and serve the broader goal of mutual enhancement.

The Songyang Story introduces Xu’s concept of Architectural Acupuncture and discusses the influence of architecture on cultural self-understanding and economic renewal in twenty-first-century rural China. Richly illustrated, it features some twenty new buildings and conversions of existing structures with diverse functions. These interventions work in the local context and greatly affect Songyang County’s social fabric, housing, culture, industry, agriculture, landscape conservation, and tourism. Published alongside the illustrations are essays by international economists, sociologists, and curators as well as by the secretary of the Songyang County Party Committee, examining the social, political, and economic implications of sustainable planning and collective action in the Chinese province.


Kristin Feireiss is a writer, editor, and the founder of the Aedes Architecture Forum in Berlin.

Hans-Jürgen Commerell is an architectural photographer and codirector of Aedes Architecture Forum.

Xu Tiantian is an architect with her own architecture firm DnA_Design and Architecture in Beijing. She has been working for Rem Koolhaas has been awarded with the 2019 Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture .

Autoren & Herausgeber

«Wie wertvoll, dass es zu diesen Projekten eine ausführliche Publikation gibt: Bitte anschauen! Inspirieren lassen! Solche Projekte geben Optimismus, Mut und Hoffnung.» Martina Pfeifer Steiner,


«Ursprünglich aus einem Ausstellungskataloghervorgegangen, ergänzt um Interviews mit Tiantian und Statements der KuratorInnen / HerausgeberInnen, gewinnt diese Dokumentation in Buchform nicht nur Sympathien durch die ‹freundlichen ländlichen Gebäudeinterventionen›, sondern vor allem durch eine umsichtige Fotografie, die völlig konträr zu den Gepflogenheiten heutiger Hochglanzablichtung, hauptsächlich die Menschen in den Vordergrund stellt.» Jonis Hartmann,


«Xu Tiantians Bauten sind grossartig – und die Strategie, traditionelles Handwerk wiederzubeleben, lokale Wirtschaftsformen zu bewahren und den Tourismus zu stärken, ist faszinierend und vielversprechend zugleich.» Hubertus Adam, archithese


«Ein inspirierender Ausflug in ein selten wahrgenommenes China.» Helwig Schmidt-Glintzer, fachbuchjournal