People of Everywhere & Nowhere - An architectural investigation into the Chinese diaspora within Tāmaki Makaurau

Title Page

The Chinese diaspora results from geopolitical, environmental, and economic factors, where a notable distribution of people of Chinese origin can be found in Auckland, New Zealand. This project is interested in how offspring of Chinese immigrants negotiate their double identity: their “Chineseness” on the one hand versus their New Zealandness/Kiwiness on the other. How do unique hybrid identities of this sort develop and contribute to the urban fabric of Auckland? The assimilation of Chinese communities came at great personal cost, not just in terms of laborious work, self-denial and delayed gratification, but also the constant awareness that their acceptance in New Zealand was hard-earned and conditional. The then largely invisible Chinese-New Zealand community has now become the largest Asian subgroup in New Zealand (28% as of 2018), yet limited architectures in Auckland engage with the abundant community. This thesis intends to bring architectural discourse to the importance of hybrid representations in Tamaki Makaurau, using the Chinese-New Zealander identity as a case study.

With the COVID-19 outbreak in 2019, the identity of many Chinese-New Zealanders has come under question, raising issues of racism. If tensions were to worsen, the Chinese residing in New Zealand would be scapegoated, as proven during the anti-Asian sentiments brewing from Yellow Peril to Chinese Polls Tax to Asian Invasian. This begs the question: if ethnic enclaves and Chinatowns were born out of the necessity of a safe haven space, why did New Zealand not have one, or do we need one?

Net bridge 150 A1
Bridge portion 150 on A3
Tall net 150 A0
Axo 1100 A2
Theatre net 150 A
Axo theatre 175 A2
NET A1 150
Moving structure short section 150 A2 SQUARE
212312310231029 065002070 i OS
Portion modular 3 150 A3 Converted

This thesis is a creative autoethnography in traversing issues of Chinese-Kiwi identity. Through varying mediums that explore both cultures of New Zealand and China, the thesis intends to address this hybrid phenotype through modular, nomadic and guerilla "Chinatown" markets, which are sprawled throughout multiple sites, from varying scales; constantly moving, adapting and actively avoiding confrontation; just like the quiet Asian immigrants. On task with representing a more inclusive and holistic view of space, incorporating social, cultural, and subjective aspects, the thesis hopes to bring discourse to the idea of cultural spaces that are not fixed but are continually evolving and shaped by multiple identities.