The Contemporary Chinatown: An exploration into Chinese-New Zealand identity through Food, Drawing and Architecture

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Identity operates within the hearts of Chinese-Kiwis as an expanding collection of memories, traditions, stories and language. Drawing inspiration from these concepts, this thesis brings an opportunity to explore and celebrate the established and developing local Chinese identity within Auckland, New Zealand through a sensory journey of culinary traditions and the active consumption of food. This creative platform allows us to address the loss of cultural and local characteristics experienced by successive generations of Chinese-New Zealanders torn between the notion of home ‘here’ and home ‘away’ as well as the development of its cultural identity and its relevance in today’s society.

This thesis explores the question: How can food and architecture help further establish and develop the growing Chinese-New Zealand identity within the urban fabric of Auckland?

Process-based exploration tools such as drawing, collages and model-making have evoked various connections between food, identity and architecture. These methods have allowed for the investigation of the chosen site of Myers Park, Auckland. They further explore how the landscape would operate in conjunction to understanding and developing cultural identity through food and activity. The park is re-imagined as a shifting landscape that hosts many sensual journeys to reflect various culinary traditions. The architecture situated within this landscape becomes a metaphoric extension that responds to the human treatment and consumption of cultural foods.

It is through taking part in activities that the site is fully activated, adding to our memories and further influencing our cultural identities. In doing so, the architecture becomes a tool of continuous exploration rather than  providing a finite solution.  

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