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The Stoma: Herb Bank

Part 2 Project 2014
Felix Lip-Tat Saw
University of New South Wales Sydney Australia
Cabramatta is the largest Vietnamese ethnic enclave in the south-western region of Sydney. Shortly after WWII and subsequently the Fall of Saigon, Australia abolished the White Australia Policy and opened its doors to Vietnamese refugees. While ethnic concentration reinforces cultural identity, the difference in socio-economic development created an intercultural gap between the host people and the new immigrants. After 40 years, Cabramatta has amassed series of socio-political issues which stem from the peculiar circumstances of the original mass-migration.

The community is an introverted enclave highly self-reliant and stubborn to the influences of surrounding communities. Despite government intervention, injecting much needed financial opportunity into the community from the greater Sydney region the real issue is not black and white. Cabramatta struggles to assimilate with the Greater Sydney community. With the added pressure of future city growth and spatial constraints, the region stands to segregate itself further, taking from it opportunity and economic growth. The greater change needs to come from within.

The scheme proposes a Herb Bank, highlighting the value of herbs in the commercial ventures of Cabramatta, which derives from the Vietnamese cultural root and ranges from culinary, medicinal, sacred and reflexology. The nexus of the proposal is a community nursery, where herbs and plants are gardened by the community as a collective effort. The community nursery will encourage visitors to learn, experience, and engage in the process of growing and nurturing herbs. Alongside the nursery are spaces such as a community kitchen, experimental bar, herbarium, research lab and apothecary, complementing the narrative of herb growing and their cultural significance. This knowledge can then be passed on to a greater community beyond the borders of Cabramatta.

The scheme also proposes a sunken plaza with the removal of an existing car park, creating a large public space for the communities’ leisure, cultural and religious activities. The new plaza restructures the vehicular circulation to the periphery of the town centre, improving the pedestrian experience within. By representing traditional knowledge of the humble herb, Herb Bank aspires to mediate intergenerational differences and intercultural divisions between Cabramatta and Greater Sydney, cultivating interaction and communication.

Felix Lip-Tat Saw


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