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A Celebration of Collective Differences - A Chinese Cultural Centre in Belfast

Part 2 Project 2010
Yiu Hei Shek
Queen's University Belfast, UK
The thesis seeks to explore the diverse cultures within Ireland / Northern Ireland. With the ever increasing number of ethnic minorities establishing themselves within the local community, yet there is little we know about their cultural background and for them, very little is understood about their new environment.
For my thesis I will be focusing on one particular group. The Chinese community in Ireland is the longest established migrants groups in Ireland, Chinese people have been living in Ireland in significant numbers since the 1950s and they are the largest ethnic minority groups in Northern Ireland.
In the local community many believes that there is not enough interactions and cross cultural understanding between the two communities. And many hope that there could be more events that involve the collaboration of the two communities.
On the other hand the matter of self identity prevails as the younger generation of the Chinese community feel they’re “not really Irish and not very Chinese”
The Chinese cultural Centre will become a vehicle that breaks down the invisible gap between the two communities and form a cultural bridge that aid the locals to understand the origins of their neighbours, their culture and their way of life while also helping the younger generation of Chinese in Ireland to rediscover their roots.
The cultural centre will be a house that allows everyone to intertwine, learn and appreciate each other forming a beacon celebrating the collective differences.

Yiu Hei Shek

Yiu’s fascination and inquisitiveness with his Chinese background and culture has fuelled his desire to design a fitting facility that will be a vehicle for multiculturalism and a bridge between the Chinese and other cultures in Northern Ireland.

He was able to produce a very strong architectural response to an extremely complex context, a linear strip of land located along the Lagan River and overflown by a number of bridges. His approach to the context was to produce a linear building that turns and twists along the river and leads to a tower which will act as a landmark.

He investigated vernacular Chinese architecture, and thoroughly explored Chinese arts and crafts in order to understand their influence on vernacular Chinese architecture and its materiality. He was able to examine a considerable amount of historic information on Chinese culture and architecture, and managed to speak to elder Chinese living in Northern Ireland in order to identify their cultural needs and wishes.

His design proposal delivers a building that will enable visitors to follow a journey of discovery, interact with Chinese artefacts and people, and learn more about Chinese landscape and architecture. The proposed dynamic route through the building will bring an added dimension to the visitors’ experience by exploring the displays, events, participating in workshops, and also appreciating the landscape, the river and the views towards the city from the tower.


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