Mend the gap: building bridges for trans-cultural exchange and community building for the complex communities in Cyrildene's Chinatown

Ho, Caitlin
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The East Asian populations within Johannesburg have a history as old as the city itself and is a diverse mix of multiethnic, multi-generational, and multicultural peoples. Th eir position within the Rainbow Nation is oft en ambiguous, still seen as “the other”. Th e paper then focuses on exploring the space of Chinatown - of which Johannesburg has two. We compare the fi rst in Malaikum to the second in Cyrildene. An understanding is reached by navigating the historical spatial Abstract ii signifi cances of the fi rst “Chinatown” before considering the development of Cyrildene’s Chinatown. Th rough this, the paper uncovers spatial gaps and opportunities. Cyrildene Chinatown, as an active ethnic space, has been chosen as a site for an architectural intervention that can act as a catalyst for trans-cultural exchange and community building at all scales as an attempt to begin mending both spatial and social gaps. By supporting the multi-layered communities found within the East Asian population in Johannesburg, it is hoped that inter-and intracommunity connections will be strengthened through a space of encounter: combining active learning, celebration of cultural diversity, promotion of community cohesion to combat adversity, revealling under-documented histories of East Asian in South Africa, and work towards a transcultural future.
A dissertation submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture (Professional) to the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, School of Architecture and Planning, University of the Witwatersrand, 2023