Under 35 – Ren Tian

Change angles of thinking through designing, teaching and research, gaining in-depth understanding of the architectural world

Project Specs


gooood团队采访世界各地 35岁以下的年轻创意人,他们有的是创业者,有的是业主,有的是普通职员。我们探访众生百相,记录这个时代年轻人的面貌和真实状态,欢迎您的推荐和建议。
第43期为您介绍的是 任天,谷德曾经发表过他的在海外专辑(点击这里查看)。他是设计聚合的创始人。设计聚合正在招募人才,请点击这里查看

gooood team interviews creative individuals under 35 years old from all over the world, some are pioneering founders, some are clients, some are ordinary practitioners. gooood is trying to record the authentic living and working states of this era. Your recommendations and suggestions are appreciated!
gooood Under 35 NO.43 introduces Ren Tian, founder of DesignHub. gooood have published his school works in the oversea album (click HERE to see) . Please click HERE to see the recruitment information of DesignHub

出品人:向玲 / Producer: Xiang Ling
编辑团队:陈诺嘉,武晨曦,刘丹阳 / Editor: Chen Nuojia, Wu Chenxi, Liu Danyang





Back Track


Into the career of architecture


I was born in Hangzhou and grew up around the West Lake. From middle school to university, I got the opportunity to study in Singapore. I was taught in the British A and O educational system. Though it was still test-oriented, the pressure was much smaller than the national College Entrance Examination in China. Schools in Singapore valued students’ interests outside class a lot. At that time, I exercised long-distance running in the track and field team, participated the polo team as a goal keeper, played instruments in the brass band, and organized events in the student union. These experiences helped to complement the lessons in the class. It was relatively free to choose courses and as I was interested in both liberal art and science, I studied lessons of literature, history and philosophy, as well as math, physics and chemistry. Twenty years have passed. Although I have forgotten most of the knowledge, when I look back to this experience, I could find that they built a comprehensive foundation for me to be engaged in the architecture industry. I have always wanted to become an architect since I was very young. Though I could not recall the reason, I am quite sure that being an architect was my dream. It is lucky for me that I can keep doing the things I like.

▼任天在新加坡学习生活的照片,Ren Tian studying and living in Singapore


Study experience

对我个人设计理念影响很大的学校除了我的母校新加坡国立大学和哈佛大学,还有苏黎世联邦高工(ETH Zurich)和中国美术学院。建筑的教育和学习,可以说是一种溯源和传承,没有什么想法是凭空而来的,我个人的学习过程很长,有幸遇到了非常多的好老师,在他们的言传身教中,形成了现在我对建筑的认识。

新加坡国立大学非常国际化,老师们来自截然不同的教育背景:有来自日本京都大学的Erwin Viray,也是A+ U的主编,教我们建筑史,也是我的建筑启蒙老师;有东京工业大学的日本老师Tsuto Sakamoto,他也是哥大Bernard Tschumi的学生,专门研究筱原一男;有来自ETH的德国老师Florian Schätz,非常注重建构的研究;有之前在OMA工作的Colin Seah,那个时候就开始研究建筑与时尚的关系,后来做了很多“网红建筑“;还有Peter Sim,做了很多建筑与社区实践融合的实践等等。那时我在WOHA的实习工作,第一次感受到专业建筑事务所的工作状态,那是非常难忘的经历。

大三那年,我在ETH Zurich交换,我的老师是西班牙著名建筑师Jose Luiis Mateo, 后来大四又去巴塞罗那他公司工作,他对我的影响很大,我看到了教学,实践和理论结合的状态,一直非常向往,他的每个建筑都是见招拆招,没有固定形式语言,直面现实与社会的复杂性,深刻而清醒,没有故弄玄虚的招式。很希望看到他在中国出手的话会做出什么。那两年在欧洲待的久了,也让我坚定了要再去美国看看的决心。

I have studied in four universities and they had influenced my design idea significantly. Except for the University of Singapore and Harvard University, ETH Zurich and China Academy of Art have also had strong influence on forming my design philosophy. The study and education of architecture is to inherit the history and trace back to the source to some degree. Everything must root in something else. I spent a long time studying in architecture and I was lucky to meet many excellent teachers. They taught me by their words and deed, helping me to form my understanding in architecture today.

The University of Singapore is very international and the teachers have different educational background. Erwin Viray was my first teacher in architecture. He was graduated from Kyoto University and taught architectural history. He was also the chief editor of A+U. Japanese teacher Tsuto Sakamoto was from Tokyo Industrial University. He was also the student of Bernard Tschumi in Columbia University, focusing on the study in Shinohara Kazuo. German teacher Florian Schätz was graduated from ETH and he was paying great attention on construction study. Colin Seah had worked in OMA. He began to study the relationship between fashion and architecture from that time. Since then, he have designed many Instagram buildings. There was also Peter Sim, who had done many practices trying to combine architecture and community. At that time, I was an intern in WOHA. It was my first time to work in a professional architectural studio, leaving unforgettable experience for me.

In the third year of University, I studied in ETH Zurich as an exchanged student under the instruction of the famous Spanish architect Jose Luiis Mateo. Then I worked in his studio in Barcelona in the next year. He had great influence on me. I admired his work combining teaching, practice and theory. He didn’t have fixed form or design language. He would adjust his design strategy according to the real situation of each project. He was sober and looked deep into the essence of design, directly facing the reality and the complexity of the society without unnecessary efforts. I was eager to see his solution for projects in China. After staying in Europe for two years, I decided to go to the USA to see something new.

▼任天在ETH参加评图,design review in ETH

后来到了美国哈佛设计学院读March1,我们当时的core director是Scott Cohen,他与他的学生Cameron Wu,还有Peter Eisenmann的学生Ingeborg Rocker等一起教学, 这一套教学体系是建立在形式推演方法之上的,给我打开了一扇关于形式的大门。在哈佛设计学院,还有两位老师对我影响深远,一位是Francis Kere,他是来自布吉纳法索的德国建筑师,我们studio一起去了非洲,他启发了我去乡村做非常接地气的设计。另一位是George Legendre,他是专门研究参数化的,他的名言“ Ten years One idea” 给我很大鼓舞,人要坚持一个想法,做深做透才行。在哈佛的学习更重要的是其国际化的视野,我在那里选修旁听了建筑学院之外的许多课程,肯尼迪学院,MIT Media Lab,琳琅满目的讲座,来来往往的人,都令我受益匪浅,建筑不是独立运行的行业,各行各业都与之有关。

Then I studied March1 in the Graduate School of Design in Harvard University. Scott Cohen was my core director and he taught the class together with his student Cameron Wu and Ingeborg Rocker, who was a student of Peter Eisenmann. Their teaching system was built on the deduction of forms, which introduced me to the world of form. In GSD, there were two teachers that influenced me a lot. One was Francis Kere, a German architecture from Burkina Faso. Our studio went to Africa together and he inspired me to do local projects in the countryside. The other was George Legendre. He was specialized in digital design and his motto “Ten Years One idea”, which means people should persist on one idea and dig deep into it, have encouraged me greatly. The international vision was a more important factor of studying in the Harvard University. I studied many curriculums outside the architecture school, including the Kennedy College and MIT Media Lab. Various kinds of lectures and people had benefited me a lot that I learnt that architecture was not an independent industry. It was connected to every aspect of the world.

▼任天在哈佛学习,Ren Tian studying in Harvard


After coming back to China, I started to teach in the China Academy of Art and initiated my doctoral study under Professor Wang Shu. I returned to my hometown and it was a perfect end to my long journey of studying abroad. Prof. Wang Shu always talks about the anthropology of Levi Strauss, the post-structuralism philosophy of Roland Barthes, traditional Chinese garden, the countryside, Chinese landscape painting, city memory of Aldo Rossi, the Square Pagoda Garden designed by Mr. Feng Jizhong, etc. It helped me to find the connection between the knowledge I learnt abroad and the reality in current China. After this period of teaching and studying in China, I was able to digest the knowledge that I hardly understood, interweaving them into a net that could help me to understand the complicated reality and find out a way to cope with it.

▼杭州学习生活照片,studying and living in Hangzhou


Working experience in different studios

曾经在学习期间只要一有假期,就会给自己安排各种实习,不同的公司有不同公司的文化,经历多了,慢慢开始思考自己该往哪个方向走。比如在WOHA时我参与的是海南三亚半山半岛酒店,现在已经成为当地酒店的标杆,WOHA室内建筑景观一体化的处理,建筑与景观的融合,给了我很多启发。在Jose Luiis Mateo那里,我参与了一个办公楼和一个城市设计竞赛项目,他们公司人不多,但非常融洽,大家在一起工作很开心,工作方式非常西班牙,生活工作两不误。在隈研吾那里,我参与了杭州的淘宝城,我们一个6个人的小团队,从日本建筑师那里学到了认真和一丝不苟。在Francis Kere的柏林公司,我感受到他在平衡公益乡村项目和其他项目之间的努力。在Christian Kerez那里,参与了当时他在郑州的项目方案,他项目的学术性和他的偏执令我印象深刻。在西雅图的MG2, 接触了商业综合体这种新的项目类型,也让我了解到商业层面和大公司的规范。在经历了这些工作之后,我感到有几点是明确的:1. 没有固定的形式语言,但是有明确的思考方式和价值观。2. 项目类型不限,而是在不同的项目类型之中,寻找深层的逻辑共性。3. 城市与乡村的介入均衡发展,相互促进。

When I had holidays during school, I would look for intern works in different companies, which have different cultures. After gaining more and more experience, I gradually started to consider where should I go. In WOHA, I participated in the design work of the Serenity Coast Resort Sanya in Hainan, which has become an icon among the local hotels. WOHA inspired me a lot by its integrated work of architecture and landscape, combining architecture and landscape design as a whole. When I was working in the studio of Jose Luiis Mateo, I worked on an office building project and an urban design competition. There were only a few people in his office. Everyone was friendly and it was very happy working with them. They worked in a Spanish way that live and work were both valued. In Kengo Kuma & Associates, I was in a team of 6 architects and participated in the design of the Taobao City in Hangzhou. I learnt the serious and meticulous way of working from the Japanese architects. I felt their effort to balance the public welfare projects in the countryside and other projects when I was working in Francis Kere’s. I worked on the strategy design of a project in Zhengzhou when I joined Christian Keres. The technicality of his project and the stubbornness of the architect left deep impression on me. In MG2 in Seattle, I participated in designing commercial complex, which was a new type of architecture for me and helped me to understand the rules in commercial design and the working standard in large companies. There was something sure that I had learnt from working in these companies. Firstly, though there were clearly thinking method and values, there was no fixed language in form. Secondly, we should not limit ourselves in the project types. We should look for in-depth logical connections between different types of buildings.

▼任天在不同事务所工作,Ren Tian working in different studios
(左)在王澍老师的工作室工作,(left) working in the studio of Prof. Wang Shu
(右)在西班牙Mateo工作室工作,(right) working in the studio of Mateo in Spain





Founding of DesignHub

设计聚合现在有四位合伙人,我们各自有不同的分工和擅长,是一个非常互补的组合,在这种合伙的基因之中,本身就是一个聚合的状态,所谓聚合的核心就是周而不比,和而不同。 黄明健主要负责公司参数化设计方面的项目,他是Achim Mingus的学生,也是美国注册设计师,曾就读于Sciarc和GSD,他对形式有极致的追求。何松曾经在BIG工作多年,负责BIG在亚太地区的多个项目落地,有丰富的实际项目经验,他就读于天津大学和GSD。李萌负责公司的商业策划板块,她曾就职于美国迪士尼总部,是佛罗里达大学的MBA。我主要负责公司项目方向定位和设计效果把控。公司总体非常扁平,我们会一起管一些项目,也会各自负责一些项目,相互提意见讨论。

We have four co-founders in DesignHub and each of the co-founders has different skills and work divisions, complementing each other. Our team itself is a hub and the core of our philosophy is to be harmonious while different. Mr. Huang Mingjian has studied in Sciarc and GSD and he was a student of Achim Mingus. He is also a US registered architect and has extreme pursuit in form, being in charge of digital design projects. Mr. He Song has worked in BIG for many years and has completed several projects of BIG in the Asian-Pacific district. He was graduated from Tianjin University and GSD, and he has rich experience in practical projects. Li Meng has studid MBA in Florida University and worked in the headquarter of Disney in the US. In our company, she is mainly responsible for business planning. The company is operated in a very flat system. Sometimes, we would manage a project together. In other times, we would take charge in different projects separately and discuss together.

▼设计聚合办公室,office of DesignHub


Design Philosophy



In DesignHub, there are not only talents in architectural design, but also talents in commercial planning, so that we would always participate in the early stage of the project to do some commercial planning. The more we do in the early stage, the less mistake we will make during the following design process. I always believe that the success of a project is the result of the effort of both the client and the designer. As an architect, it is necessary to think comprehensively to benefit both parties.

Take the Linhai Linghu New District as example. I am not just in charge of the urban design, but also make the holistic commercial planning. The planning department would analysis the surrounding areas of the project through big data, helping the client to gain objective understanding of the project and clarify its program. We would help the client to make decisions according to the client’s portrait, programming, logic for development and data analysis. The data is processed by Python, RStudio, MATLAB, using professional consulting methods in research and analysis with consideration in the market and following operation. Thus our design proposal would be easier to touch the client’s heart because it is the result from comprehensive consideration in architectural aesthetics, commercial planning and operation mode.

▼设计聚合工作场景,working scene of DesignHub


The combination of commercial planning and architectural design we described above, resembles the combination of the sociality and the form of a building on a certain level. Of course the discussion of the sociality of architecture is not a new thing, so is the discussion of form. Architects will be constantly looking for the balance between these two elements. Comparing to the architects who are paying more attention on the architectural form, we value the sociality of the building more. While comparing to those who focus on the sociality, we would be more considerate in forms. However, sometimes we would totally abandon forms and respond to the functional requirements in the most direct way. We will never give up the discussion in the sociality of architecture at any time.

▼设计聚合部分项目,selected projects of DesignHub



Study and practice in the countryside


One of the very important reasons why I chose to study the villages in Zhejiang province was because that there were things that I could not see and learn in the cities. My mentor Wang Shu told me that here were still many traditions preserved in the countryside, in which the Chinese culture rooted. I have seen it with my own eyes since I started to work in rural projects. The biggest difficulty during construction was to find out a way to communicate and collaborate with the local people. When we have designed something unique, it would be hard to accomplish. However, if we let them use their usual construction method, we would not accept the outcome. Finding the balance point between the construction and our expectation is the hardest part of the work and it is also the key point to make good project in the rural districts. In fact, the solution to this problem was simple. We should spend more time on site and make friends with the local people. But it was easier said than done.

▼仙居上横街改造,renovation of Xianju Shangheng Street


The main problem that the Chinese villages are facing is the loss of population. If there are no people in the village, there will be nothing else left. No matter how impressive it is transformed, it is still empty. When I design a project in the countryside, I would not design everything, making everything beautiful. On the contrary, I would always leave some blanks for the local people to fill in. I feel deeply from my heat that the effect will be limited if we only use architectural design to revitalize the rural places. We have to stimulate the spontaneous acts of the local people, only which could really change the country. We also hope that we could have strategic cooperation with the government and cut in the problem from the angles of programming and tourism planning, instead of merely renovating a building. It might generate long-term influence on the future. Unfortunately, the urban residential area renovation and rural revival projects nowadays are limited to improving the image of the district in a short time without in-depth thinking for the future. Of course, changing the environment might be the first step and we need constant effort to make real changes. The reason why we want to act as part of the rule makers and organizers for such projects is because that I have found that comparing to do a good design, it might be more important to figure where, how and when to do the project.

▼溧阳牛马塘驿站,Courier Station in Niumatang, Liyang

▼溧阳牛马塘议事大厅,Conference Hall in Niumatang, Liyang

▼塘马村村民中心,Community Center in Tangma Village



China Academy of Art


Learn after Wang Shu


我的课题是“出乎意料的局部—一种后现代哲学理论下的设计思维与教学方法研究” 主要是在当代中国这个大背景下,以城市与乡村中的住宅为讨论对象,运用后现代哲学理论和与之相关的建筑与城市理论,探讨那些看似出乎意料,实则在意料之中的非正规和自发性建造行为,并将其与建筑师的设计行为做对比,从而模糊职业设计师与非职业建造者之间的界限,以获求一种跨越风格与文化的设计方法。

In 2011, when I was studying in the Graduate School of Design in Harvard University, Prof. Wang Shu was a visiting professor and we had a very pleasant conversation. I was impressed by his target of “building up an architectural discipline for native China” so that after working for two years after graduated, I decided to go back to China and bought a one-way ticket to do so. When I look back to those days, I feel I had made a right choice. I like the things I am doing now. No matter teaching, enrolling in a Ph.D. program or launching a company, they are all challenging and I am happing doing them.

The main theme of my class is “Unexpected parts – A study of the design thinking and teaching method under post-modern philosophic theory”, which is to focus on the residential buildings in the cities and countries under the background of current China, using post-modern philosophical and related architectural and urban theories to discuss the unexpected but reasonable informal spontaneous constructions and compare them with the buildings designed by architects. Through this way, we could blur the boundary between professional and unprofessional architects in order to obtain a kind of design method cross different styles and cultures.

▼乡村中出人意料的细节,unexpected details in the countryside


Teaching practice




I started to teach in China Academy of Art in 2015. In the first year, I taught the graduation design which theme was “Effect”. On the one hand, we discussed the materials. On the other hand, we launched research on the society, trying to combine the two elements in the design. After that, I began to teach a class named “Sociality critique on the cities and countries” to the students in grade three. We take the residential buildings in the cities and countries as the main subject, discussing the complicated relationships between society and architecture. I would take my students to the countryside every semester. The theme of the class differs every semester as one semester for the city, one semester for the countryside. It has covered the different types of residential buildings including country houses, urban residence, village in the city, old residential community, lanes and alleys in Shanghai, etc.

The biggest difference between the architectural education in China Academy of Art and other engineering colleges is that we have full freedom in arranging the design curriculums. The theme of the 10th anniversary exhibition was “Keep on experimenting”, which expressed the teaching method mentioned above. Prof. Wang Shu, as the dean of the architecture school, would review the teaching plan with us at the beginning of the semester, addressing some problems that need attention, and then he would let us do what we want. The second part of the theme was “Returning to the reality”. Anyway, architecture would return to the reality. The grade three class I am teaching could be regarded as the class closest to the reality in the five-years undergraduate studies. We would go to the countryside in a high frequency and this is how we cope with the reality.

For me, designing, teaching and theory studying are different angles of one thing. We need to frequently change our view angles in order to reach more in-depth understanding and make more rational judgement.

Ren Tian bringing students to the countryside


Teaching philosophy and experience



The way of design reviewing in the China Academy of Art is almost the same as other architectural schools and it mainly depends on the content of the class. The students in the architecture schools in China nowadays are all excellent no matter in their thought or technology, which is almost equal to the foreign students. Every year, I would spend one month to teach with the teachers from RISD, or go to the countryside with the teachers and students from the National School of Architecture of Paris-Malaquais. I find that Chinese students are thoughtful and hard working. Many students graduated from Chinese architecture schools have made great achievements no matter studying abroad or working.

I constantly believe that a good teacher must not be the one that crams the knowledge into the students’ mind, but the one that explores the unknown with the students together. Creativity is not a thing that comes from a glisten of inspiration, it comes from the accumulation and transformation of observation on various concrete objects. Only when you have accumulated enough experiences, you can discover something new. In my class, I never ask my students to design a building with certain functions on a certain site. I would start my class with something unrelated to architecture like taking videos, drawing, writing stories or thesis, etc. After several rounds of transformation, the shining points in the initial thinking would be changed into architectural design.

▼美院评图,design review in CAA



Future Expectation


It is important to integrate teaching, practicing and theory study as one thing or you could not handle them. When I am teaching, I am facing the students. When I am doing architectural practices, I am facing the clients. While I am facing myself and the books when I am doing research. Although the objects of these three works are different, the way in consideration is consistent. I hope that I could keep devoting myself in different works every day and create more projects in the future.


Selected projects of DesignHub

莱西天泰幼儿园,Laixi Tiantai Kindergarten

▼采雨亭,Rainwater Collecting Pavilion
采伞源于亭,传言伞始于一个有关鲁班爱妻的爱情故事。如今伞设计师的巧思下重新回归于亭。传统的材料原竹与皮纸和民间手工艺在数字化设计下,伞亭呈现出流动的美丽。我们尝试打破传统纸伞的符号性与物件性,把它转化为抽象的二维连续旋转的面, 从而试图创造出三维流动的空间。
伞空间系统运用数学逻辑来控制竹结构与空间形式的变异关系, 柱子的高度与位置是系统的控制参数, 最后结合了竹子材料性能完成了最终的形式生成。

▼全球自选杭州总部,Global Choice Headquarter in Hangzhou

▼杭州钱江新城生活馆,Lifestyle Pavilion in Qianjiang Xincheng, Hangzhou

▼其他进行中的项目 – 富阳杭黄未来社区
Other project on process – Fuyang Hanghuang Future Comunity

▼其他进行中的项目 – 米兰大厦
Other project on process – Milano Mansion

▼其他进行中的项目 – 唐山湾会展中心
Other projects on process – Conference and Exhibition Center in Yangshan Bay

▼其他进行中的项目 – 中南唐山湾幼儿园
Other projects on process – Zhongnan Tangshan Bay Kindergarten

▼其他进行中的项目 – 杭州未来社区安置房
Other projects on process – Social Housing in the Future Community in Hangzhou

▼其他进行中的项目- 临海幼儿园
Other projects on process – Linhai Kindergarten


Please click HERE to see the recruitment information of DesignHub



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