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City Design (MA)

Xuanming Ren

The project focuses on an immersive tour of Sebastia through virtual reality, a medium that connects the diaspora to Palestine, breaking geographical and political borders and bringing the Palestinian diaspora back to their homeland and building an online virtual space community. As mixed physical and virtual reality is on the edge of becoming common in everyday life, as was the turning point with the invention of the mobile phone, creating virtual spaces has gradually become a possible norm. But in this case, the virtual space's availability and intentionality is not an alternative to the physical realm but a possible solution to the lack of access due to the system of apartheid against the Palestinians in the diaspora. Here, the virtual becomes only a temporary loophole while the diaspora waits for their return to the physical state of a liberated Palestine.

Virtual Sebastia is Xuanming's first attempt at urban virtual space research. He restored the urban space of Sebastia in the virtual space and made it into a video game. He hopes to explore more research and practice on virtual and urban space in the future.

Xuanming Ren

Xuanming (Jerry) is now a practicing architect whose interests are mainly in migrant population, social identity, urban renewal and smart cities. Over the past seven years, his professional studies have spanned from interiors to landscape to architecture and city design.

Cycling in the city was his favorite pastime as a teenager, an experience that led him to choose Environment Design as an undergraduate. During the bachelor period, he completed the study of landscape at Beijing University of Technology (2016-2020), but chose to work in architectural practice in the gap year (2021-2022) after graduation. Before entering the Royal College of Art (2021-2022), he chose urban design as his master's research direction. Learning about space at different scales and dimensions prompts him to think about the world…

Palestinian Diasporas
Due to the war and Israel's apartheid policies, many Palestinians were forcibly displaced to live in other countries. It will be difficult for them to return to Palestine unless they get a permit from Israel.


Today there are around 5 million diasporas living abroad, 3 million of whom have been displaced to other countries as diasporas as a result of the war. In 1948, with the establishment of the Israeli government, some 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes in what became known to Palestinians as Nakba, but this wave of mass exodus of Palestinians was not the only one, as nearly 100,000 were displaced in the Six-Day War in 1967. Together, these refugees who left their homes as a result of the war make up the majority of the Palestinian diaspora. In addition to this, there were others who emigrated for work, education and religion. In the decade following the Six-Day War there were still Palestinians who were forced to leave because of the control and occupation by the Israeli government and army. The first Israeli government later passed a series of laws prohibiting Palestinians who had left from returning to their homes, and the failure of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process made it difficult for Palestinians in exile to return to their homes.

Footage Sketch
Models of Attractions

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The text and video material from Sebasitia is then loaded into the game engine for interaction. When the player approaches a defined area a text description of the area appears. Video and sound footage is also loaded into the site, and audio samples are automatically played when the player approaches certain areas. Sebastia National Park is one of the highlights of the virtual world, as the park itself is an expression of Israeli apartheid.