Critical Spatial Practice

In 2003 I came up with the term ‘critical spatial practice’ to describe projects located between art and architecture, and the standpoints theory offered for playing out disciplinary definitions.

See ‘A Place Between Art, Architecture and Critical Theory’, Proceedings to Place and Location (Tallinn, Estonia, 2003), pp. 221-33. Published in English and Estonian. (attached)


I developed this concept further in my book Art and Architecture: A Place Between, from 2006, in which I examined a series of projects located between art and architecture – defined as critical spatial practices – since they both critiqued the sites into which they intervened as well as the disciplinary procedures through which they operated. I argued that such projects operated at a triple crossroads: between theory and practice, between public and private, and between art and architecture, and I was keen to stress three particular qualities of those works: the critical, the spatial and the interdisciplinary.

See  Jane Rendell, Art and Architecture: A Place Between, (London: IB Tauris, 2006), 240pp., 63 illustrations. (Introduction attached)


Since then I have developed the practice through my own research, writing, and teaching, as a way of critically engaging with artworks, architecture and urban space. For example, I have used it as a lens to explore the work of Apolonija Sustersic and transparadiso.

See Jane Rendell, ‘Seven Problematics for Neoliberal Times’, catalogue essay for a monograph on the artist, Apolonija Sustersic, in collaboration with Museo Arte Contemporaneo de Castilla de Leon published by (Leon and Berlin: Musac and Sternberg Press, 2013) (Spanish/English).

See Jane Rendell, ‘Writing Transparadiso: Across and Beside’, catalogue essay for a monograph on the practice of transparadiso, Direct Urbanism, (Nürnberg: Verlag für moderne Kunst, 2013). (German/English).

Sections of the book have been developed into chapters in other collections. 

See Jane Rendell, ‘Space, Place, Site: Critical Spatial Practice’, Cameron Cartiere and Shelly Willis (eds) The Practice of Public Art,(London: Routledge, 2008). 

Or taken forward by making connections to other practices such as editing, curating and writing, 

See Jane Rendell, ‘Curating, Editing, Writing: Critical Spatial Practice’, Judith Rugg (ed) Issues in Curating, Contemporary Art and Performance(Bristol: Intellect Press, 2007).

Sections from the Introduction on the new concept of ‘critical spatial practice’ were reprinted in Jane Rendell, ‘Critical Spatial Practice’, Art Incorporated, curated and edited by Sabine Nielson, Kunstmuseet Koge Skitsesamling, Denmark (2008) and exhibited at the Whitechapel (2013). The collection 

I have developed the concept to take into account aspects of temporality, in: 

See Jane Rendell, ‘Constellations (or the reassertion of time into critical spatial practice)’, Claire Doherty and David Cross (eds) One Day Sculpture,(Bielefeld, Germany: Kerber Verlag, 2009). 

And also as a way of thinking about feminist approaches to architecture and urbanism, in

See Jane Rendell, ‘Critical Spatial Practices: Setting Out a Feminist Approach to some Modes and what Matters in Architecture’, Lori Brown (ed) Feminist Practices (London: Ashgate, 2012).

A shortened and revised version of this essay was republished in 2018 as: 

See Jane Rendell, ‘Only Resist: A Feminist Approach to Critical Spatial Practice’ in The Architectural Review 

And in as an alphabet arrangement: 

See Jane Rendell. ‘Feminist Architecture: From A to Z’

Most recently I have been considering my own practice of institutional critique – at home and at work, as a form of critical spatial practice.

 ‘Critical Spatial Practice as Parrhesia’, special issue of MaHKUscript, Journal of Fine Art Research. (2016).

And in an expanded version as part of my Home-Work Displacements project as 

‘Activating Home and Work’, Sandra Loschke (ed.), Rethinking Architectural Production: Between Experience, Action and Critique, (London: Routledge, 2019).

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