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Faculty of Humanities School of Built Environment Department of Architecture and Interior Architecture

Volume One Cultural Adaptation of the Home Volume Two Cultural Integration

Author: Si Ying Wong

This Research Report is presented for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts: Interior Architecture of Curtin University November 2012


This Research Report contains no material which has been accepted for the award of any other degree of diploma in any university. To the best of my knowledge and belief this thesis contains no material previously published by any other person except where due acknowledgment has been made.

______________________ Si Ying Wong 19th of October 2012

© Copyright – Si Ying Wong – 2012 siying.wong@student.curtin.edu.au All rights reserved. No reproduction without permission.


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To my supervisors, Renee and Nancy Thank you for your kindness and expert guidance throughout both semesters

To friends and family Thank you for your love, support and understanding throughout the year

To fellow coursemates who have been there everyday Thank you for the madness and tolerance To Paul Kway Thank you for sharing your culture, your stories and wisdom To God Without Him, I am nothing, but with Him, I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

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c u lt u r a l a da p tat i o n o f t h e h o m e a c a s e s t u dy o f t h e k a r e n c o m m u n i t y o f p e rt h volume one


“To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.� Simone Weil


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When communities get displaced, either through natural disasters or wars or persecution, their “home” and “sense of belonging” is taken away from them, and they are forced to depart from their homes. With the loss of homes, family and friends, livelihoods, the sense of familiarity and identity of a place is stripped and they are obligated to adapt to the next destination they occupy, going through not just physical displacement but emotional displacement as well. As they restart and rebuild their already fragmented lives in a new settlement, temporary or permanent, whether in a different town, state or even country, they are faced with problems of new cultures, languages, people, communities, and homes.

“A home is also a set of rituals, personal rhythms and routines of everyday life. Home cannot be produced all at once; it has its time dimension and continuum and is a gradual product of the family’s and individual’s adaptation to the world.” (Pallasmaa 1994)

In this dissertation, the notion of forced displacement and sense of belonging and identity will be explored, where people of a certain cultural group have been forced to immigrate to a new cultural environment search to regain their cultural identity and sense of place. The homes occupied by the displaced communities from their original country and the host country were analysed, where the internal spatial layouts, occupation of spaces and personalisation are compared to ‘typical’ domestic homes in Australia. Theories of sense of place, place-identity and cross-cultural adaptation will be utilised to guide the research, and I will be using a case study to illustrate this, focusing on the Karen immigrant community, an ethnic group from Burma. Due to their ethnicity, the Karen have been oppressed by the Burmese government for decades in their own country, with many fleeing from their own homeland. Many of the Karen live along the border of Burma and Thailand in refugee camps, and in the last few years, many of them have been relocated and resettled to third countries due to the meagre prospect of never returning to their native country again. In recent years, there have been Karen communities that are newly established in Western Australia. I will be questioning how these displaced communities regain their sense of belonging and adapt to new environments, and also, how the design of an internal space can affect the nurturing of a sense of belonging in a home.

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Abstract i Contents ii Glossary iv Abbreviations v Introduction 1 Generator 3 Project Description 5 Research Question and Objectives 6 Chapter 1: Displacement Forced Displacement 9 Refugees 10 Australia’s Refugees 12 Chapter 2: Shelter Meaning of Home 14 Tamil Nadu 17 Soe Ker Tie House 19 Resettlement in Australia 20 Chapter 3: Identity, Adaptation & Acculturation Place-Identity Theory 22 Cross-Cultural Adaptation Theory 24

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Chapter 4: : Culture Karen: Cultural Identity 30 Chapter 5: Cultural Adaptation Methodology 37 Home: Burma & Australia 38 Chapter 6: Reflection Conclusion 48 List of Figures 52 List of Images 53 Reference List 54 Bibliography 58 Appendix 59

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Home The home is a material and an affective space, shaped by everyday practices, lived experiences, social relations, memories and emotions. It is “a space of belonging and alienation, intimacy and violence, desire and fear, the home is invested with meanings, emotions, experiences and relationships that lie at the heart of human life” (Blunt and Varley 2004, 3).

Identity Identity is defined as “people’s concepts of who they are, of what sort of people they are, and how they relate to others” (Hogg and Abrams 1988, 2). It is the “relatively stable, role-specific understandings and expectations about self” (Wendt 1992, 397).

Culture

Sense of Belonging It is “the experience of personal involvement in a system or environment so that persons feel themselves to be an integral part of that system or environment. It is a system that can be a relationship or organisation, and an environment that can be natural or cultural.” It is having a secure physical, emotional and political locus within society (Hagerty et al 1992, 173).

“One defines it as a way of life typical of a group, the second as a system of symbols, meanings, and cognitive schemata transmitted through symbolic codes, the third as a set of adaptive strategies for survival related to ecology, and resources. Increasingly, these three views are seen not as being in conflict but rather as complementary. Thus, designed environments of particular cultures are settings for the kind of people which a particular group sees as normative, and the particular lifestyle which is significant and typical, distinguishing the group from others. In creating such settings and lifestyles, an order is expressed, a set of cognitive schemata, symbols, and some vision of an ideal are given form-how- ever imperfectly; finally, both the lifestyle and symbolic system may be part of the group’s adaptive strategies within their ecological setting” (Rapoport 1984, 10).

Community Community is “… a place of reference and belonging… the community includes dimensions of space, place, and sentiment as well as action” (Chaskin and Richman 1992, 113).

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DIAC

Department of Immigration and Citizenship

HSS

Humanitarian Settlement Services

KNU

Karen National Union

MCSWA

Multicultural Services of Western Australia

SPDC

State Peace and Development Council

TBBC

Thailand Burma Border Consortium

UN

United Nations

UNCHR

United Nations Commission on Human Rights

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The contents of this dissertation will discuss the notions of culture, home and identity of a community that had been forcibly displaced due to external factors and have been resettled into a new cultural context. In the first chapter, the global and national context of forced displacement and the refugee situation in the world will be discussed, which then leads to the meaning of Home in the second chapter. The importance of shelter and home will be explored in different cultural contexts using two precedent studies, the settlement of Tamil Nadu and the Butterfly Houses in Thailand. The housing that is currently being provided by Australia’s resettlement services for humanitarian entrants will also be analysed in this section.The third chapter focuses on the theory place-identity and cross-cultural adaptation.The fourth chapter examines the cultural identity of the ethnic group: the Karen people’s background, history and cultural practices. In the fifth chapter, the methodology is introduced, which constructs the case study of the Karen by comparing and contrasting the cultural adaptations of the home between Burma/Thailand and in Western Australia. The adaptation mechanisms utilised by the cultural group as they undergo transition in a new country will be investigated. Chapter six provides the analysis and synthesis of the information that has been collated in chapter five, and concludes with the design principles that will set out a design brief, forming the basis of the site selection and creating a design scheme for the second half of this dissertation.

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“I was drawn to this inquiry by a deeply felt need to understand the cultural changes that I had experienced. What happens when individuals, born and raised in one culture, settle into a new culture? How do we cope with the uncertainties of the new environment? Why are some of us more successful than others in adapting to the changed life conditions?” (Kim 1988) Kim, one of the leading theorist behind cross-cultural adaptation challenged the notion of cultural adaptation which I myself was deeply intrigued by, where throughout the 20 years of my life, I have moved to three different countries, four different cities, seven different schools, and nine different homes. For me, it almost seemed normal, immune almost, to the constant packing and unpacking, changing homes and schools, leaving the old and embracing the new. “We’re moving again.” was treated with a sigh of submission, a shrug of acquiescence. Yet this concept of displacement interested me, more so from the perspective of someone or a community that has been forcibly displaced, due to external factors like natural disasters or civil wars. I then narrowed down my area of scope to displaced communities who have gone through the combination poverty and persecution, which led to the case study of the Karen, an ethnic group from Burma.

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CULTURE/ ACCULTURATION

IDENTITY/ DISPLACEMENT

HOME/ ADAPTATION

Figure 1.Venn diagram of Culture, Identity and Home (Diagram by author)

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A convergence of culture, identity and home is explored in this dissertation, where the cultural adaptation of the home, especially for persons who have undergone forced displacement and are submerged into a new host culture as they regain their sense of belonging and identity, in particularly in the sense of the ‘home’. The Venn diagram that depicts the convergence of the three areas of focus will be understood and examined in the following chapters in terms of textual analysis, theoretical inquiries, precedent studies, and a case study of a culture group that has experienced involuntary displacement and had undergone the process of cultural adaptation in a new country. Cultural adaptation is the process of transition as “individuals who, upon relocating to a new and unfamiliar sociocultural environment, strive to establish and maintain a relatively stable, reciprocal, and functional relationship with the environment”, which in this case, is the “home” (Kim 2005, 380). The importance of sociology, typologies, political realities and cultural awareness of the domestic structure occupied by a certain group of people is taken into account, whom in this case is the Karen community, which will be identified to recreate a sense of belonging and identity as they settle into a new environment. The Karen people have undergone persecution and involuntary displacement, and since 2001, new communities have been established and resettled in Australia, and more particularly, Western Australia. Based on the information I have gathered, the case study will analyse the cultural adaptation of the houses that are occupied by the Karen, as compared to their traditional way of life back in Thailand or Burma, and also how a typical Australian family would occupy the same house. ‘Typical’ domestic structures in identified suburbs where these new communities have settled in are investigated and analysed and the cultural responsiveness or unresponsiveness of the structures are identified. This leads to my research question in the following page.

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Can the cultural adaptation of a ‘typical’ domestic structure in Western Australia allow the re-establishment of a sense of belonging, home and identity within the Karen community of Perth?

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Examine the different meanings of “Home” in different cultural contexts, especially in communities that have experienced displacement through poverty, political instability and ethnic conflicts. Analyse the shelters currently occupied by the displaced communities in Western Australia. Examine the adaptation mechanisms adopted by displaced persons or communities. Analyse the personalisation or customisation of the home and how this translates into a “sense of belonging” for the displaced person or family and also the whole community. Develop an understanding of the cultural identity of a Karen home [in Burma and in Western Australia], and how it manifests in a physical and psychological environment. Investigate the “cultural adaptation” of existing Karen homes in Western Australia. Identify the responsiveness or adaptability of internal spaces in Karen homes in WA and how a sense of belonging and cultural identity can be incorporated and fostered in these homes.

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Figure 2. Structure of Content and Information flow (Diagram by author)

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In recent years, there has been an increase in the scale of international migration, where push and pull factors include globalisation and growing disparities in living conditions, both within and between countries, employment and educational opportunities, reuniting with family, and those fleeing persecution and conflict in their countries. 42.3 million, that was the number of people forced to leave or flee their homes by the end of 2009, due to conflict, violence, and human rights violations. Of these, there were approximately 15.2 million who are refugees, people outside their own country of nationality, and 27.1 million who are internally displaced persons (IDPs), who have not crossed international borders. (Harild and Christensen 2010). Though the number of displaced persons has fluctuated over the years, the overall scale of displacement remained consistently high due to climate change, the increased occurrence of natural disasters, and international and internal conflicts.

“In such cases, displaced persons can live in limbo for years, hoping for return and in the meantime not fully integrating in their host communities.� (The Worldbank 2011)

Image 1. Japan’s Nuclear Refugees: Cardboard Homes

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A refugee is defined as an individual who “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside his country of nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it” (Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees 1951, 1967). Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) on the other hand are persons who have not crossed an internationally recognized State border” (UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement 1998). Displacement triggered by violence, conflict and human rights violations pose not only a humanitarian crisis, but also a development challenge where conflict-induced displacement creates particular vulnerabilities and needs for those affected which may continue for many years after the initial displacement. According to UNHCR (2010), most of the causes of armed conflicts were civil wars that occurred over the past decade, with forced displacement mostly cause by internal armed conflicts rather than international conflicts. Displaced persons, both refugees and IDPs, face challenges as they relocate, such as housing and land property, employment and livelihoods, psycho-social well-being, access to services and public goods including health, education and infrastructure, and accountable and responsive governance (Christensen and Harild 2009). According to the UN Declaration on the Right to Development, “the right to development is an inalienable human right, by virtue of which every human person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized.” Precisely due to the fact that these people have not been able to realise their human rights and fundamental freedoms that they feel obliged to seek protection outside their country of origin. When involuntary displacement occurs, it entails the severing of community ties, the loss of social networks and familiar bonds. It is the process of losing one’s sense of home and belonging, and negotiating and integrating oneself into a new cultural system and identity.This means change, and it implies disruptions to interpersonal systems and social networks, and challenges the systems of meaning (Sonn 2002, 205). Figure 3 depicts the timeline of forced displacement, showing the housing transitions refugees undergo after displacement from temporary to permanent shelters.

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Figure 3. Forced Displacement Timeline (Diagram by author)

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Australia is considered as one of the major resettlement countries for refugees, where 13,750 refugees are taken in every year. In 2008, Australia ranked as one of the top three countries contributing to the resettlement of refugees (USCRI 2009). Australia signed the Refugees Convention in 1954, establishing a legal framework for the protection of refugees and people in need of resettlement or humanitarian assistance. Under the definition set out by UNCHR, a situation in which 25,000 or more refugees of the same nationality have been expatriated for more than five years or longer in a given asylum country is considered as a protracted refugee situation. There are 5.5 million of these refugees living in 21 host countries which were accounted for a total of 25 protracted situations globally (Harild and Christensen 2010). The UNHCR resettlement auspices focus primarily on the special needs of refugees under the mandate that recognises that their life, liberty, safety, health and other fundamental human rights are at risk in the country where they sought asylum (Refugee Council of Australia 2012).

“The majority of today’s refugees have lived in exile for far too long, restricted to camps or eking out a meagre existence in urban centres throughout the developing world.” (UNCHR 2006)

The Humanitarian Program in Australia offers an offshore refugee program that allows people outside of Australia who are in need of resettlement due to protracted situations. Some of the refugee groups from protracted situations that have been resettled in Australia include nationalities from Iraq, Afghanistan, Burma, Bhutan, Sudan, Ethiopia, Burundi, DR Congo, Somalia, Sierra Leone and Liberia. When refugees first arrive in Australia, they often suffered from traumatic experiences in their past where their homes or communities have been destroyed, and have spent long periods of time living in refugee camps or volatile urban environments. Specific policy responses and programs have been set up to address the needs of these people from unique backgrounds and circumstances, where multiple support networks are provided for building a new life here in Australia. Many of these challenges include trauma and mental health issues; physical disabilities; low levels of literacy and English proficiency; limited skills and qualifications or the lack of work experience hence resulting in difficulty to attain suitable employment or training (Refugee Council of Australia 2012). In addition to that, refugees are not only faced with the challenges of coping with the stress of learning a new language, familiarising themselves with new legal systems, transportation systems, and looking for long-term accommodation, education and jobs, but they must also face the need to adapt to cultural differences and a loss of identity. The Karen people from Burma are one of the ethnic groups considered to be of a protracted refugee situation (Harild and Christensen 2010).According to the Refugee Council of Australia (2012), Burma has remained as the top country of origin for humanitarian entrants to Australia since 2006.Australia is a multicultural country where many different people from different cultural backgrounds call home. Resettlement does not end when a refugee arrives in a foreign country. It brings with it a process of change for one’s sense of belonging, home and identity.

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According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, human beings are all motivated to achieve “self-actualisation”. However this can only be achieved after we have satisfied all other human needs. The requirements of each level must be met before self-actualisation can be fulfilled. By meeting each necessity, this will enable people to process further towards attaining fulfilment. Shelter is included as one of the physiological needs, which is one of the most basic needs of humankind for survival, together with food, water and health. She further emphasized that the environment plays a vital role as part of the foundation on which future satisfaction is built upon (Israel 2003, 55).

Figure 4. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (Maslow, 1954)

From Israel’s “Some Place like Home” (2003, 56), she reinterpreted and adapted the pyramid to fit our needs through the context of home. Instead of “self-actualisation”, “home as self-actualisation” is fulfilled when the other levels of housing needs have been satisfied.

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Figure 5. Home as Self-Actualisation (Israel 2003, 56)

Home as shelter: Home as a structure that meets our basic physical needs including our need for safety and protection from threats and natural elements. Home as psychological satisfaction: Home as an arena that meets our needs for self-expression, for sharing feelings of love and belonging. Home as social satisfaction: Home as a place that meets our needs for privacy, independence and freedom as well as allowing us to achieve dignity as part of community. Home as aesthetic satisfaction: Home as a setting for experiencing the pleasure of beauty.

Shelter as a basic need must be met first, and once we have achieved the security that a house provides, rented or owned, it is then possible to transform that into a home. At this stage, the house becomes a setting for meaning, where it is not only a physical structure but is also a symbol, a cognitive representation of a familiar place of retreat where family, love or belonging can be associated (Israel 2003, 3). The home symbolises all of these, but above all, “the house is a symbol of self” (Cooper Marcus 1995, 11). It becomes an expression, an extension of self, where the personalisation of space is created as one of the subsets to one’s identity.The individual defines his or her own space, creating their own personal footprint that embodies and expresses one’s cultural background and lifestyles (Hanson 1998, 1).

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In the context of today where migration is considered commonplace, whether internationally or nationally, voluntarily or involuntarily, home has much to do with having a sense of belonging and identity. Home, is therefore not just a physical place, but also the emotional connections and relationships, the ideas, behaviours, values and activities that humans perform and interact with within spaces across time.The home links directly to socio-cultural influences, where the spaces within our homes “engages us with issues of identity and memory, consciousness and the unconscious, biologically motivated behavioural remnants as well as culturally conditioned reactions and values” in our everyday lives (Pallasmaa 1994). Culture and values define the “self” of an individual, and thus our identities and behaviours are intertwined within how we influence and are influenced by our spatial environments in both physical and psychological senses. “The ‘home’ is a complex and culturally and socially layered environment made up of memories, images, desires and fears from past and present. It is a collection of series of rituals, personal rhythms and everyday routines which reflects the inhabitant’s dreams, hopes, tragedies or memories” (Rai 2011, 35).

“In terms of housing, giving meaning becomes particularly important because of the emotional, personal and symbolic connotation of the house and the primacy of these aspects in shaping its form as well as the important psycho-social consequences of the house.”

In ‘The Meaning of the Built Environment’, Rapoport (1982, 80) described how the built environment informs appropriate behavioural cues as a mnemonic device. These cues are to elicit appropriate emotions, interpretations, behaviours, and transactions by setting up appropriate situations and contexts. For example, the impacts of cultural attitudes and values towards eating on the spatial functions in a home makes a major difference on whether one has a formal family meal in a separate dining room or eats in the kitchen; whether everyone eats separately whenever they wish or all eat together; or whether one eats indoors at all. These patterns of formality or informality in dining takes up an important role in moulding childhood attitudes, and to that extent the house can be a mechanism for shaping one’s character (Rapoport 1969, 131). A person’s beliefs, values, and ways of understanding the world also affects and shapes how environments are used, understood and perceived. Hence spatially, different socio-cultural groups have different cultural needs, where different behaviour settings are factored by various socio-cultural norms like geographical, social, cultural, religious, and political influences (Rapoport 1976, 8). This leads to and complements the Place-Identity theory in Chapter 3, where the place-identity of an individual changes when placed in a new physical and social context, how the setting then affects the individual’s identity and thus, behaviour of the individual.

(Rapoport 1968, 300)

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“The dwelling is the theatre of our lives, where the major dramas of birth and death, of procreation and recreation, of labour and of being in labour play out.Yet in times of emergency, culture appears to be a luxury, beyond the means and priorities of response.” (Aquilino 2011, 186) In Beyond Shelter: Architecture for Crisis by Aquilino (2011, 186), an example of rebuilding a community that has a strong housing culture during times of disaster was when the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami hit the fishing villages of Tamil Nadu, India. For the coastal villages of Tamil Nadu, housing extends beyond the need for shelter. The housing culture of the Tamil Nadu people was not only sacred, reflecting their Hindu spiritual beliefs and rituals, it was their way of life, livelihoods for the men and women of the village. It defined the strict gender roles between the men and women, and the decorations and motifs on the external walls of the house depicted the family’s identity, also giving the houses unique character. The construction and design of a house is highly ritualised, where a ‘pandit’1 is consulted to select an exact site, and to give specific measurements and proportions that are defined by the horoscopes of the oldest woman in the household. Measurements of every wall, the number of doors and windows, and the orientation of the entrances had to be exact. The ‘pandit’ determines the first day of construction, where a ritual intended to ensure the safety of the building is carried out. All of this is important because even under normal conditions, building a new house is seen as a process that connects all the different but interdependent communities in the region (Aquilino 2011, 187). Image 2 and 3. Tamil Nadu traditional fishing house

“Vernacular houses were well adapted to the local climatic conditions, environmentally sustainable, in harmony with the natural habitat, and beautiful.” (Duyne Barenstein 2008, 10) Many of the houses consist of two to three rooms: one inside and the other is a semi-enclosed veranda, acting as the intersection of private and public spaces, and leads into the main room, which is the most important part of the house. This room is well-ventilated, modulated by the climate as cool breezes circulate through small fretted windows and pierced openings in the walls. During the day, people spend their leisure time and entertain guests here. At night, the veranda is transformed into a sleeping area with straw mats on the floor. The inner room is used as a storeroom and a sleeping area for the women during the monsoon season. The kitchen is a separate enclosed area, with some houses also including a separate prayer room (Aquilino 2011, 187). A sketch floor plan (Image 4) shows the functions, occupation of the spaces, and the private and public areas of a traditional fisher’s house, also showing the importance of trees surrounding the house.The trees signify cultural importance: trees are connected to notions of health, protection, beauty, and sacredness (Naimi-Gasser 2009). The fishers usually spend most of their time outside, around their houses. Trees surround the settlements, providing valuable resources like food and thermal comfort. These shaded areas are constituted as important private or communal spaces, with the men mending nets under the coconut trees, and women meeting under tamarind trees to socialise, while the children climb and play among the branches (Aquilino 2011, 188).

Image 4. Floor plan of traditional house (Drawn by author)

Pandit1: A temple priest and astrologer, someone esteemed for his wisdom or learning (Aquilino 2011, 186).

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When the post-tsunami reconstruction began in Tamil Nadu, the dominant approach was contractor driven, where the competence was based on monetary capacity, not contextual knowledge. Owner and community participation was kept to a minimum despite the fact that “local communities had a strong housing culture and building capacity, the local construction industry was not affected by the tsunami, construction materials and skilled labour were locally available, and the number of houses that needed replacement was significantly below the official estimates.” The new houses were white boxes built with foreign materials, set in a grid like settlement layout and sometimes in a new location without any trees (Duyne Barenstein 2008, 11). The imposition of western models and traditions was evident in the social housing and post-disaster reconstruction programs, showing the lack of appreciation for the local housing culture (Aquilino 2011, 188).

Image 5. External wall motif

The clearance of pre-tsunami houses, trees and other vegetation by contractors depleted natural resources in the villages, where the villages were traditionally immersed in a thick vegetation of bushes and trees. Livelihoods of the men and women diminished, as the trees not only traditionally provide shade from the scorching heat and resources such as fuel, fruit and vegetables, and a source of income, but it provided communal spaces to meet, work, eat and rest -- a vital part of their community life. (Duyne Barenstein 2008, 12). Furthermore, much importance is given to the veranda in the vernacular houses where people eat, rest, receive guests during the day, and sleep at night (Aquilino 2011, 193). New houses were built with no verandas or with only a very small one, where spaces to accommodate and entertain guests became non-existent. The new houses were conceived for nuclear families where only all married couples are entitled to a house. However, most families live as an extended family, hence causing the nucleation of extended families, also leaving the elderly or widows in isolation and without social security (Duyne Barenstein 2008, 13). Negative social and environmental impacts derived from the contractor-driven approach of the reconstruction. The eradication of trees has dismantled livelihoods and social life, and has led to poor health. The deterioration of physical and psychological health has been noted as a direct impact from the loss of trees. Increased rates of alcoholism, domestic violence, depression, and suicide have been reported in the post-disaster settlements (Aquilino 2011, 193). “There was such disregard for housing culture in the way the new, post-disaster settlements were designed and built that serious physical and mental-health problems now trouble the fisher families of Tamil Nadu.” (Aquilino 2011, 184)

Image 6 and 7. Tamil Nadu post-tsunami reconstruction

Rebuilding a home parallels with rebuilding a person’s livelihood, a family’s bonds, and a community’s way of life. Restoring livelihoods and communities after disasters is a complex task which cannot be resolved by simply building hazard-resistant houses. The case of Tamil Nadu showed that people have the capacity to build environmentally sustainable, socially conscious houses that meet their practical needs. A respectful and dignified approach to reconstruction would involve allowing them to rebuild their houses according to their needs and preferences. The housing culture and livelihoods within the framework of post-disaster reconstruction should be taken into consideration and this is applicable to all communities or cultural groups. And to emphasise this, we need to understand that houses do not only become a home, it is also a living system and an expression of a way of life.

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The Butterfly Houses (Soe Ker Tie House) were built by TYIN Tegnestue, a non-profit organisation that focuses on humanitarian architecture. In 2008, TYIN planned and constructed small-scale projects in Thailand, aiming to build strategic projects that can help improve the lives of people in difficult situations. This included the Butterfly Houses, a set of six dormitories for Karen orphans in the village of Noh Bo on the Thai-Burmese border. The buildings were built with the purpose of recreating what these children would have experienced in a more normal situation, where each child is to have their own private space, a home to live in and a neighbourhood where they could interact and play. This has also allowed the orphanage to grow from housing twenty-four children to almost fifty (Saieh 2009).

Image 8. Soe Ker Tie House

Image 9. Elevation of Soe Ker Tie House

The buildings were raised from the ground on four foundations cast in old tires to prevent moisture and rot.The bamboo weaving technique used for the side and back facades of the sleeping units were the same techniques that the Karen use in building local houses and crafts. The bamboo was harvested on local grounds while the iron wood construction was prefabricated and assembled on site, utilising bolts to ensure precision and strength. TYIN also designed a special roof shape to allow for effective, natural ventilation; which at the same time acts as the rainwater collection system. And because of the appearance of the buildings, the Karen workers named them the Butterfly Houses. The interior of the space too, acts not only as playrooms and lofted sleeping areas but also jungle gyms and open spaces for games and impromptu lessons (Saieh 2009). Local materials, techniques, labour and skills were utilised, proving that the shelters were sustainable, culturally responsive, and socially conscious in design. New construction skills were taught and imparted to the locals as well, hence leading to better and more sustainable building practices in the future. Private and public spaces were well-defined, allowing the children to have places to sleep, socialise and play. In a way, the children were given a new childhood, one without the trauma and fear instilled from the past. The architects adapted the structures to fit the environment, climate and also the culture of the Karen. Hence it was locally accepted and achieved its goal of responding to the need for shelter, clean water and most of all, a place to live and play. And in a sense this was a new beginning, a new home for the children.

“Play materials and space to play are extremely important in the relief phase, when refugees are in shelters,” explains Carol Raynor, a clinical therapist in youth services from Marshall, Missouri. “Children are still reliving the terrors internally, and they need opportunities to play out the trauma with toys and art materials” (Architecture for Humanity 2012).

Image 10. Soe Ker Tie House

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“A house is probably the largest asset owned by most families, whether in developing or developed countries” (Beyond Shelter 2011, 70).

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Government resettlement programs like the Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS) in Australia aids with providing intensive settlement support for newly arrived-humanitarian entrants on arrival and throughout their initial settlement period.The HSS helps with providing skills and knowledge for humanitarian entrants to participate in the economic and social life of Australia and to independently access services beyond the initial settlement period. Services provided are tailored to individual needs which include: arrival assistance and property induction; short and long-term accommodation; provision of an initial rental payment; provision of a package of basic household goods and; assisting clients to make essential registrations (DIAC 2012). In terms of housing needs, newly arrived refugees are provided with firstly, short-term or if possible long-term accommodation where types of housing and renting, costs and areas are introduced, as well as tenancy and rental responsibilities. Accommodation training by the HSS is then provided and taught where skills include maintaining the house, paying the rent, connecting and disconnecting utilities, using the laundromat, the cooking stove, etc. Due to the low to moderate income status of most refugees, renting in the private sector is generally arranged, often with rent assistance from government sources. Renting for bigger families pose a problem as it is difficult to find long term accommodation that may suit all their financial and cultural needs; hence many compromise and take whatever housing is available at the time. The houses provided are usually older and smaller houses, and customs, cultural habits and behaviours may not be accommodated in the provided dwelling. The two precedents, the post-tsunami reconstruction in Tamil Nadu and the Butterfly houses in Thailand, both demonstrates how cultural housing is crucial in revitalising a family, cultural group or a whole community after undergoing effects of involuntary displacement. The former showed the implications of not taking into consideration of a cultural group’s customs, values, and beliefs, thus causing the residents problems in terms of health, culture, community with the new permanent shelters provided. The latter took culture into consideration, where a very dignified approach was utilised to build the shelters for the orphanage, creating an culturally responsive environment for the staff and children. Comparing this to residences provided for Australia’s refugees, most would say that the housing provided is inefficient in terms of cultural responsiveness for all the different cultural groups entering Australia under the humanitarian program. The meaning of home, especially for people who have undergone forced displacement, maybe fragmented or unfulfilling due to past circumstances, and to regain their sense of belonging and identity, the home needs to provide meaning and be defined as the individual’s expression of self, culture and values. The case study of the cultural adaptation of the Karen home will be discussed in Chapter five, where accommodation provided in Western Australia poses a question of cultural responsiveness in these dwellings.

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C H A P T E R 3 identity adaptation acculturation

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“Space, in its physical and metaphysical senses, acts as a medium for the interactive relationships between people and nature. As such, space is the invisible differentiation of the visible built environment. In order to perceive meaning in the built environment we need to explore the invisible differentiation inhabiting its space” (Theory and Criticism 2001).

p l a c e

i d e n t i t y

proshansky, fabian and kaminoff (1983)

t h e o r y

Many factors, such as environmental, genetic, social and cultural, combine to shape our identities. A place, can be defined as an “extension, considered independently of anything which it may contain; that which makes extended objects conceivable and possible” (ARDictionary n.d.). This affects a person’s identity as a person attaches himself or herself to a place, identifying with places where one grew up in or lived in both a small and large scale. The places where one has lived before may also influence their environmental preferences for the future. However the contrary is also true, where places are also influenced by people’s identities, where personalisations of homes or workplaces occur, reflecting and communicating to others their identities (Hauge 2007). Stokols and Shumaker’s (1981) “transactional view of settings” emphasized the interdependent relationship between people and the environment. It focuses on people and place as a unit, stressing the reciprocal influence between people and places, where transactionalism does not solely focus on either the person (perception, cognition, personality) or the environment. Speller (2000) defined “place” as “a geographical space that has acquired meaning as a result of a person’s interaction with the space.” Place-identity is described as a substructure of self-identity, comprised of perceptions and cognitions regarding the environment. It relates to the past, present and potential physical settings that define the everyday existence of an individual. These cognitions evolve as an individual selectively engages with the environment on both a conscious and unconscious level (Proshansky et al 1983, 62). It is how an individual relates identity to both the social and physical environment. Spaces become the location in which identity forming processes take place, where a person would generally consciously relate the social aspect of a space to the physical attributes that contribute to the social experience. It was defined as a “potpourri of memories, conceptions, interpretations, ideas and related feelings about specific physical settings” (Proshansky et al 1983). “The theoretical conception of place-identity as an individual’s strong emotional attachment to particular places or settings is consistent with the broader conception of place-identity. Individuals do indeed define who and what they are in terms of such strong affective ties to ‘house and home’ and/or neighbourhood and community.” (Proshansky et al 1983, 61). Place-identity is developed as a child learns to differentiate him or herself from other people around them, yet is able to relate itself to the physical environment. Home, becomes the primary environment, followed by the neighbourhood and the school (Hauge 2007). Social and environmental skills and relationships are developed, even as change occurs throughout a person’s lifetime, causing place-identity to adjust to a new setting (Proshansky and Fabian 1987). With every physical setting experienced by a person, place-identity becomes a cognitive “database” that collects and organises new information (Proshansky et al 1983). Social and cultural norms, behaviours, roles, rules and regulations of the space becomes associated to a physical context, influencing how individuals behave to the identity they relate with that particular environment.

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There are five fundamental functions of place-identity: the recognition function; meaning function; expressive-requirement function; mediating change function; and anxiety and defense function. Recognition: The individual’s experience of environmental stability. Meaning: Signifies the environment’s “intended purposes and activities in relation to its design” that the individual understands, and recognises (Proshansky et al 1983, 67). Expressive-Requirement Function: Measures the individual’s response to the environment through tastes and preferences. Mediating Change: Deals with cognition of “discrepancies between their place-identity and the characteristics of an immediate physical setting” (Proshansky et al 1983, 70). Anxiety and defence: Explains the negative connotations that can surround an individual’s environment, where the discrepancy between the expectations of a setting and the actual setting affects the place identity of the individual, creating avoidance of the space and negative emotions (Lien 2009). This theory thoroughly provides an explanation of how individuals socialise with the physical world, to form and to act as an aspect of identity. The relationship between social and physical identity helps justify the complex nature of an individual’s place identity. Using home as an identity can be interpreted differently across the diverse groups in the community where meanings of home can be associated with the physical house, the neighbourhood, community or the geographical location (Lien 2009). For the Karen community, this too implies that though they are culturally distinct as a community, individually, they equate meaning within spaces across different spectrum. All individuals are connected to their home environments regardless of their background, age or experience. The home environment facilitates in creating an individual’s identity, hence it should be incorporated and accommodated in designing, building or selecting a home. The importance of maintaining a sense of identity within a new setting could foster a greater sense of place and the maintenance of the individual’s wellbeing within the environment. Personalisation or modification of space to meet one’s tastes and preferences can act as “an affirmation of the individual’s self-identity” (Proshansky et al 1983, 69).

“The home is that spatially localized, temporally defined significant and autonomous physical frame and conceptual system for the ordering, transformation and interpretation of the physical and abstract aspects of domestic daily life at several simultaneous spatial-temporal scales, normally activated by the connection to a person or community such as a nuclear family.” (Benjamin 1995, 158)

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c r o s s

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t h e o r y

kim (1988, 2001)

Due to its multifaceted aspects, cross-cultural adaptation has been viewed from different conceptual dimensions and measured in a variety of categories such as: changes in economic conditions, perception, attitude, behavioural patterns, linguistic proficiency and ethnic/cultural identity. And in turn, these categories each comprise of elements that could be examined separately in varying degrees of scientific legitimacy (Kim 1988, 11). “Due to the involuntary and traumatic nature of their departure, most had little chance to prepare themselves psychologically for life in the new country. Particularly during the initial resettlement phase, many suffered from a deep psychological dislocation and sense of loss.” (Kim 1988, 5) Cross-cultural adaptation theory comes into play as involuntary displacement occurs where individuals are forced to cope with a high level of uncertainty and unfamiliarity as they are pushed into an ambivalent status, at odds between the familiar milieu of their original culture and the new locus in the host community (Kim 1988, 6). Kim (2001, 35-38) identified three assumptions for cross-cultural adaptation based on the motivation for people from culturally different societies to adapt to local cultures: Assumption 1: Humans have an innate self-organising drive and a capacity to adapt to environmental challenges. Assumption 2: Adaptation of an individual to a given cultural environment occurs in and through communication. Assumption 3: Adaptation is a complex and dynamic process that brings about a qualitative transformation of the individual. Kim proposed the stress-adaptation-growth dynamic, which is the underlying system of cross-cultural adaptation. It is based on the idea that host cultures exert a pressure on strangers to conform and acculturate to the host’s cultural order, highlighting the stranger’s inability to alter the local culture. Disequilibrium confronts the individual as experiences of acculturation and deculturation causes stress on the newcomers, necessitating a commitment to yield to the new environmental demands (Kim 2001, 55). When these changes in the new culture are managed successfully, internal changes occur and are manifested in the stranger’s intercultural transformation. In other words, they assimilate into the new culture.

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Figure 6. Stress Adaptation Growth Model

Kim’s stress adaptation-growth model does not elaborate on the stages of cross-cultural adaptive change; hence the stages of acculturation by Berry (1997) were incorporated, which consists of euphoria; stress; communication; anomie; assimilation or acculturation. Figure 8 shows how the stages of acculturation are situated within the process and development of cross-cultural adaptation and place-identity. Acculturation is the exchange of cultural features that results when groups come into continuous firsthand contact; the original cultural patterns of either or both groups may be altered, but the groups remain distinct (Kottak 2007). Anthropologists Redfield, Linton and Herskovits (1936, as quoted in Berry 1997, 7) developed the following definition: “Acculturation comprehends those phenomena which result when groups of individuals having different cultures come into continuous first-hand contact, with subsequent changes in the original culture patterns of either or both groups.”

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According to Berry’s model of acculturation and immigrant adaptation (1997, 9) however, where it contains four common responses to intercultural contact, including integration, assimilation, separation, and marginalisation. These responses are characterised by shifts in attitudes and behaviour towards one’s own and other communities, whether to maintain their cultural identity and whether to maintain relationships with larger society.

Assimilation occurs when individuals fully adopt the host culture and is absorbed into the larger community, and thus not maintaining the traits of their original culture.

In contrast, separation is when individuals reaffirm to their original culture, and reject and avoid interaction with others from the larger society, in other words, they segregate when it is required of them by the dominant society. Integration is when it is the synthesis of the two cultures; hence, some degree of cultural integrity is maintained.

Marginalisation, on the other hand, is when there is little possibility or interest in cultural maintenance, and little interest in having relations with others. Reasons may often be exclusion or discrimination.

Figure 7. Model of Acculturation: Responses

The definition of integration and acculturation is understood and used as synonymous to each other. Ghaffarian (1998) who tested the biculturalism hypothesis, found that there is a general concurrence among different models of acculturation, where it is shown that those still rooted in their home culture while adopting the host culture report better social and psychological well-being as compared to those who might separate or marginalise themselves from the host culture or assimilate into the host culture.

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However mutual accommodation and acceptance from both the host community and the immigrant community is needed for integration to be attained, with the non-dominant group adopting the basic values of the host community, while the dominant group preparing to adapt national institutions to better meet the needs of all the groups now living together in the plural society. In this case, Australia’s national policies for humanitarian entrants does encourage integration for refugees into the Australian society, but housing-wise, refugees do not have a choice but to assimilate into a house that is foreign and not of their cultural background. They lose part of their home culture and are forced to assimilate their old habits, customs and way of lives into new domestic structures. Figure 8 illustrates that it is still important to note that the roles of contextual factors are vital in shaping the settlement experience, as well as experiences, resources, and competencies of the immigrant communities as they negotiate the new context and settlement process. Adaptation of a community to a new context focuses on the important aspects of socio-cultural systems, resources, and histories that the immigrant communities bring with them. The diagram in figure 8 depicts the development of the place-identity of an individual or community as they immerse in a new socio-cultural and physical context, and how they cope with the transitions through the cross-cultural adaptation model and the acculturation stages.

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Figure 8. The Cross-Cultural Adaptation process and the development of Place-Identity

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C H A P T E R 4 c u l t u r e

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k a r e n

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i d e n t i t y

background/history

The Karen people originated from Mongolia around 3000 years ago and are considered ethnically distinct from other ethnic groups living in Burma and Thailand (CDC 2010). The British colonised Burma in 1886, where the various ethnic nationalities were grouped within one country (Neiman et al 2008).There are around 20 different sub-groups, each with different languages, customs and religions (IOM 2006).They call themselves the Kayin, whereas the term “Karen” is used only by people outside the community or refers to those who live in rural communities along the Burmese-Thai border. The Karen are indigenous to the hills and plains of south-eastern Burma and western Thailand (Hiyami and Darlington 2000). It is estimated that the population of the Karen community has around six or eight million people, and about 300,000 “Thai-Karen” living in Thailand (Culture, Faith and History 2010). The Karen can be divided into Southern, Central and Northern groups. These subgroups have their own languages and distinct traits in terms of clothing (Barron et al 2007). Sgaw Karen are the largest Karen subgroup, with most of them living along the river valleys in the rural areas along the Burmese Thai border. Due to the years of ethnic conflicts and persecution by the Burmese government, many of the Sgaw Karen have settled in refugee camps along the Thai-Burmese border (CDC 2010). The Karen people were historically rural people, and most of them remain to be to this day, living in river valleys, plains and mountains (CDC 2010). They live in villages built in small clearings in the forest, with houses made entirely of bamboo and thatch. A nearby stream or river may provide a place for the Karen villagers to bathe, do washing and collect drinking water (Neiman et al 2008). The Karen communities are reliant on farming, where nearly 70% of Karen participate in economic activities based on agriculture, gathering and hunting (Barron et al 2007). However, due to environmental degradation, population increase, and restrictions on forest and land use, the traditional farming practices of the Karen communities in both Thailand and Burma are changing, causing food shortages and poverty (Hiyami and Darlington 2000).

Image 11. Map of Burma

“In many respects, [Burma’s] cultural diversity reflects [its] location on a strategic crossroads in Asia. Here it has acted as a historic buffer between the neighbouring powers of China, India, and Siam (Thailand). A fertile land . . . the country is protected by a rugged horseshoe of mountains that surround the Irrawaddy plains. Over the past 2,000 years, many ethnic groups have migrated across these frontiers, interacting with other people along the way. The result is a pattern of cultural interchange and human habitation which, in many areas, resembles more a mosaic than a map of homogeneous or easily separable territories.” (Smith 1999)

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social structure, family and gender

Karen culture places a high value on the family, respect for elders, and duty to parents (Barron et al 2007). The concept of community is vital for the Karen as they consider the community as the extended family. However, the nuclear family plays a major role in the everyday life of the Karen too, where both man and woman equally share responsibilities in the household, with the men doing mainly manual labour while the women are responsible for maintaining the household (CDC 2010). The men are honoured in the home, but the women’s opinion is also well-respected as Karen culture is a matriarchal society (Neiman et al 2008). religion

“Rather than being known for its diverse ethnic history and rich natural resources, Burma is distinct as the setting of one of the longest-running civil wars in the world.” (Ward 2002)

Religion is an important part of Karen life, and there are three main religious beliefs:Animism, Buddhism and Christianity (Neiman et al 2008). The Karen were traditionally animists, which is the belief that all natural objects and individuals have spirits or souls. According to this system of belief, “one supreme spirit dominated the whole of the water, the earth and the sky.” This belief of a centralisation of spiritual power helped facilitate the Karen transition to Christian monotheism, through the influence of missionaries. Today, it is roughly estimated that 40% of the Karen are Christian, 40% are Buddhist, and 20% are still Animist (Tharckabaw and Watson
 2003).

Image 12. Karen ethnic group

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politics/oppression

Throughout British rule and especially during World War Two, tensions between the Karen and the Burmese were intensified, as the Karen aligned with the British and the Burmans with the Japanese (Tharckabaw and Watson
 2003). When the Japanese invaded Burma, many atrocities were committed against the Karen by the Burmese and Japanese. After World War ll, when the British were negotiating independence, the Karen advocated for independence from Burma and for their own land. Upon Burma’s independence, there was a short period of time where the Karen attempted to live peacefully with the Burmese, where some of the Karen even held government and army leadership positions. In spite of this, in 1948, the attacks on Karen villages begun again and the Karen officials were stripped of their titles. A stable government was never established in Burma, and a military regime has been in power ever since 1962 (Neiman et al 2008). The Karen National Union (KNU) is a political organisation and government for the Karen people of Burma. Established in 1947 after the British granted independence to Burma, it has been striving to preserve the Karen ethnicity and equal rights for their people (Tharckabaw and Watson
 2003). Having been suffering from genocide by the Burmese military dictatorship, the KNU strive to provide relief in three aspects: “to provide humanitarian aid in the form of such things as food and medical assistance; to provide a means of self-defense; and to work with any other parties who are dedicated to removing the dictatorship, the SPDC2, from power, such that the genocide against the Karen, and others, and all the other forms of abuse that are committed against all the people of Burma, are ended, decisively, such that they can never recur” (Tharckabaw and Watson
 2003). The KNU seeks to be a dedicated, fully- functioning government to the Karen State in preparation for a future democratic and federal Burma, not just as a resistance government. The Karen are egalitarian; they believe in equality for all people with everyone deserving equal rights and opportunities (CDC 2010). The Karen people aspire to finally have social harmony in their own country, which will allow them to re-establish villages and farms, their traditions, values and way of life. Also they wish to be able to live in peace, without discrimination and persecution, and to able to cooperate with other ethnicities in the country (Tharckabaw and Watson
 2003). “The Karen Nationalist movement has nothing to do with a legacy of disgrace or the idea of racial superiority, but with the preservation of our ethnicity and equal rights,” says Mahn Nyein Maung, one of the leaders of the Karen National Union (KNU), an armed resistance group that has been striving for self-determination since 1949.

Image 13. Mae La Oon refugee camp

(Zin 2000)

SPDC2: The State Peace and Development Council, the official name of the military regime in Burma (Myanmar) which seized control of the government in 1988. The SPDC has, however, been dissolved on March 30, 2011, and has transferred power over to a civilian parliament.

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refugee camps

There are approximately 140,000 refugees, with most of them being Karen, accommodated in nine main refugee camps along the Thai-Burmese border (TBBC 2012). For many of the refugees, particularly the children, life in the refugee camps is all they have known. In the camps on the border, families usually live in bamboo huts of two or three rooms. Amenities like food, shelter, sanitation, and facilities like basic education and health care are provided by aid agencies and NGO’s. However, security at the camps can be an issue as the Burmese army has, on occasions, crossed the border and attacked the camps. The refugees are not allowed to leave the camps as they are considered stateless, where they are unable to attend the schools or universities in Thailand or work unless they obtain work permits. If they are caught outside the camps, they face deportation, where they are forced back into Burma. Most of the remaining refugees have little choice but to eke out precarious lives as in these refugee camps, waiting to either finally return to Burma again, or resettlement a third country (Barron and Ranard 2007).

Image 14. Mae La Refugee Camp

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Figure 9. Burmese Border Displaced Persons February 2012

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statistics of the karen in australia

Burmese migration to Western Australia began in the 1960s after the military coup began in Burma. A second wave of Burmese migration was recorded between 2001 and 2011, where almost two-thirds (64%) of Burman-born people arrived during this period were resettled by the UN through the Humanitarian Program. Burma remains as one of the top countries of origin for humanitarian entrants in Australia (Refugee Council of Australia 2012). This second wave consisted primarily of ethnic minorities including the Chin, Karen, Rhakhaine and Rohingyas people, with most of the refugees being of Karen descent. There are approximately 5000-6000 Burma-born people in Western Australia at the moment (Office of Multicultural Interests 2006). Settlement patterns have been identified as consistent for the Karen. Areas where Karen people have settled around in Perth are the city of Stirling, Gosnells,Wanneroo, Canning and Swan (Office of Multicultural Interests 2006). Also, in the past few years, around 30 families have resettled in Katanning, a country town 280 kilometres southeast of Perth. It was featured as a successful secondary settlement in a regional Australia, as a lot of the Karen had found living in the city difficult, since they came from refugee camps in Thailand and rural villages in Burma (FECCA 2011).

Figure 10. Distribution of Burma-born people by settlement pattern in Perth Metropolitan Area 2006

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m e t h o d o l o g y For this dissertation, an ethnographic approach was utilised through methods of interviews and secondary data collection methods, instead of conducting fieldwork and immersing into the culture to observe and participate in daily routines of the cultural group. Ethnography is described to be “a qualitative design in which the researcher describes and interprets the shared and learned patterns of values, behaviours, beliefs, and language of a culture-sharing group” (Harris 1968). This definition was then used to communicate the understanding of the culture of housing and the cultural adaptation of the home that is occupied by the immigrant community in Western Australia, focusing on the Karen community as a case study. A case study, on the other hand, according to Hartley (2004, 323), “consists of a detailed investigation, often with data collected over a period of time, of phenomena, within their context” with the aim being “to provide an analysis of the context and processes which illuminate the theoretical issues being studied.” It is the study of an issue explored through one or more cases within a bounded system, like a setting or a context. A triangulation of data was used as in most case studies, which “uses different sources of data to examine a phenomenon in several different settings and different points in time or space”, comparing and contrasting the data collected from different methods to enhance the quality of the analysis. A triangulation of information is employed as there is a need to confirm and ensure the validity and accuracy of the processes and outcomes (Yin 1984). The methods used in obtaining information for this case are secondary data collection methods such as textual analysis and literature reviews and primary data collection methods which are semi-structured interviews. Participants selected for the interview are chosen based on their experiences with working with the Karen community in Perth, with two participants who are of the Karen race. Interviewing served as an effective method to gain people’s insights, their beliefs and opinions, while participant observation was not utilised due to ethical limitations. Both the primary and secondary data collection methods were used to inform and complement the theoretical propositions and to shape the constructs of the case study.

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sample description FOCUS GROUP The Karen community from the Thai-Burmese border refugee camps that have arrived and settled in Western Australia between 2001 and now. WHAT Can the cultural adaptation of a ‘typical’ domestic structure in Western Australia allow the re-establishment of a sense of belonging, home and identity within the Karen community of Perth? WHERE Western Australia – Perth metropolitan areas and Katanning. WHO Person W is a pensioner in Katanning, and does voluntary work with new residents. She helps with teaching English and settling of Chinese and Karen immigrants when they first arrived in Katanning. Person X is the lead pastor at a local Baptist church where the Karen Church uses the church building. Person Y is of Karen descent. He works as a Settlement Grants Worker and Career Development Officer at Multicultural Services Centre of WA (MSCWA). He is also the Vice-President of the Karen Welfare Association of Australia, and he advocates for the Karen people in Burma, and in Australia. Person Z is of Karen descent and works as a Settlement Grants Program Officer at MSCWA. She is the General Secretary of the Karen Welfare Association of Australia. She worked for the UN in the United States and Burma before settling in Perth.

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Person Z: “It is a totally different housing environment. Because a lot of them, before they came to Australia, they were in the refugee camps at least 10, some of them 20 years.The least is 5 years. It was a 10-20 year process, before they could relocate. Housing in the camps are very different...”

in Burma/Thailand

in Australia

Person W: “In the refugee camps they had so little, no furniture, no crockery and always had to be ready to flee into the forest if the soldiers came over the Thai border from Burma to shoot up the camp. So they only had what they could grab and run with.”

Person W: “There are a few families where three and in one case four generations all live happily together. Up to now, they tend to have larger families than Aussie families. Five children is quite a normal figure and many have more.”

Person Y: “For refugee houses, there is only one building, in the front, they love verandas. And at the back, they normally keep the kitchen separate. Always separate.They have the water pot and the fireplace, because they normally boil, fry, they cook whatever, and they don’t want the smell to get in the house. They are used to stilt houses.”

Person Z: “They tend to stay closer to each other in like closer suburbs. Like a lot of them now live around Cannington, Gosnells, area in the south, and also Langford, Kelmscott… But most of them are buying houses in Gosnells. And for north of the river, mainly in Girrawheen, Koondoola, Balga.”

Person Y: “And in the camps, we normally stay that way, and it is crammed.Very crammed.”

Person X: “HomesWest houses, very modest. Just separate houses, 3 by 1’s or 4 by 1’s.” Person Z: “They have to learn skills of how to maintain a house once they got it, and also how to deal with real estate issues. A lot of times we assist them with the issues, and most of these issues come from accommodation, rental and tenancy. Service providers [HSS] assist them in finding accommodation first, and then afterwards, we [MSCWA] assist them in finding long-term accommodation to settle down…”


h o m e

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Adaptation Mechanisms

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A hypothetical Karen family of eight members that have recently been resettled in Western Australia by UNHCR from the Thai-Burma border. It was a family with five children all below the ages of 18, with one grandparent, the grandmother. They moved into a rented Australian house in the suburb of Balga through the help of Humanitarian Settlement Services. It is a typical house from 1990s, that consist of three bedrooms, two bathrooms and one carport.

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scale A traditional Karen house in a refugee camp in Thailand or Burma consist of a simple small bamboo house on stilts that is self-built, and is around 20-35m2. The method of measurement of the sizes of the house are by the number of stilts. For example the drawing shown is a three by four (3x4) house. “The shelters were crammed far closer together than was normal [compared to the villages in Burma]…” (Phan and Lewis 2009, 152).3

The accommodation provided are usually smaller, older Australian homes due to their low to moderate income statuses, where houses are usually around 110-140m2. The method of measuring of houses in Australia, besides the land size, location and built quality, is by the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, like three by two for this house. Person Z: “Same accommodation as others, but a lot of times, they live in older houses, cause they can’t afford to pay higher fees, so the conditions are quite minimal, almost run-downed. The houses are usually built in 80’s or 90’s. Sometimes they’re lucky, they get habitable houses, like most of them are but a lot of them have wears and tears like, drainage problems, leakages, and toilets.”

The traditional Karen house uses a standardised method of measure, where the widths between each stilt are standard, which is around one or two metres. All the houses are similar in size, hence the measurement by the number of stilts are applicable and pragmatic, whereas Australian houses are so diverse in sizes, location, quality of the structure, time period it was built in, materials used, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, other additional functional rooms and other attributes. The size of a Karen house from the refugee camp in comparison to an Australian house, even though this is considered a smaller, older house, is significantly smaller where everyone was provided with floor spaces of at least 3.5 m2 each. The average Western Australian house provides at least 20-30m2 of personal floor spaces per person for a 4-5 person household.

Phan and Lewis 20093:These are excerpts taken from the biography of Zoya Phan, entitled ‘Little Daughter: Memoirs of Survival in Burma and the West’, that depicts her home in Burma, where she lived in a Karen traditional house in the villages.


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construction “...each set on stilts some six feet above the ground, with a bamboo ladder leading into it.” (Phan and Lewis 2009, 27). “…bamboo is central to the lives of the Karen. We use it to make the floors, walls, and roof of our house.The walls of our house were made of flattened lengths of bamboo.The frame of the house, on to which the bamboo floor and walls were attached, was made from solid wood” (Phan and Lewis 2009, 30). These houses in the camps are usually built by the refugees themselves, who possess high levels of skills and expertise in constructing these houses, as well as repairing them. The ability to construct shelters from local materials is important, especially in the event of repatriation, where they will have to rebuild their homes (Thailand Burma Border Consortium 2007). Techniques of bamboo-weaving are used for the walls, and thatch or teak leaves are used for the roofs.These materials were customarily used for houses in the rural areas of Burma and in the villages in Thailand as well. Due to material and space restrictions in the camps, the houses are built smaller. Built on stilts, the family lives on the top floor whilst livestock and firewood are stored underneath.

Typical Australian houses like this one are constructed using the traditional double brick or cavity brick construction technique, with a concrete slab foundation and a timber-framed tiled roof.The external walls of a full brick house are built with two leaves of clay brick masonry separated by a narrow cavity. Internal walls are built with either single-thickness brick walls or steel or timber wall frames. This is considered the most conventional method of construction in Western Australia, where it performs well thermally in summer and winter. Person Y: “Suppose we are allowed to build houses, I strongly believe that they’ll love to have stilt houses with narrow angle roofs [gabled roofs].They used to ask me why the Australians love flat roof houses [flat and hipped roofs].”

Due to economical, geographical, and cultural reasons, the construction methods of both houses differ in terms of materiality, methods, and sustainability. The houses back in the refugee camps are self-built, easily assembled and disassembled, using simple building techniques and also materials like bamboo which can be easily harvested, whereas the houses in Australia utilises brick and mortar, with a poured concrete slab, where construction may take a few months up to a year.


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spatial layout “The bamboo steps led up into a living room on the left, and to the right was a bedroom.We used to sleep on rush matting laid out on the bamboo floor. To the right of our bedroom was a spare room, with a couple of bamboo-framed beds in it, for guests. At the back of the house was the kitchen. It had an earthen floor for a hearth, and three stones arranged in a triangle. Firewood would be pushed into the space between the stones, and a cooking pot balanced on top. Above the hearth was a shelf for drying foods – chilli, vegetables, meat and mushrooms.” (Phan and Lewis 2009, 33). Cooking is done on open fires in an area adjacent to the house, or on verandas at the back of the house. “We would eat seated on the bamboo floor at a round wooden table. We were free to sit anywhere we liked, and mealtimes were very informal” (Phan and Lewis 2009, 34).

A more traditional model from the 90s is used here, consisting of three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and one carport. This particular house has the housing area of 120m2, with the land size of 160m2. Older models of Western Australian houses are usually three by one houses, and kitchens, dining rooms and living areas are usually separate rooms. These houses are characterised by small bedrooms, with long corridors running through the house. Person Y: “When they first arrive, it’s really hard, because I’ve seen many families sleeping together in one room.Too enclosed, they feel like they are imprisoned, we usually open our windows and doors when we sleep. That’s a bit hard for them to get used to. They are not used to games room, study room, lounge room.”

Toilets are located away from the house, where it is shared communally. A well would be situated not far from the house as well, where a member of the household would draw water daily for everyday needs. The Karen house contained only rooms for basic functions like sleeping, eating and living areas. This is unlike in Australia where there are specialised rooms like rumpus rooms, lounges, etc. In Australian houses, the hierarchy of importance of the rooms are less defined, whereas in a Karen traditional home, the kitchen would be one of highest importance in the house, where cooking, eating, living, accommodating guests and sometimes sleeping takes place. The back veranda is also of high importance, and in the Australian house, the alfresco would be used as an informal outdoors kitchen.The fireplace in the kitchen is considered the centre of the home where most activities take place. When the Karen move into an Australian house, even though rooms are bigger in size, they often feel “imprisoned”, due to the security doors and windows, and the “hardness” of the surfaces in the house.


042


public and private spaces The bedrooms are considered as private spaces, as that is where the family sleeps together. The living area and front veranda are public spaces, while the kitchen and back veranda would be considered as semi-private. The family frequently gather on the back verandas during the day to work, socialise or rest. At night, they would cook and eat as a family on the back veranda.

The bedrooms are considered to be private spaces as well in an Australian house, with the living room being public space. The kitchen could be considered as semi-private as well, where guests might not be allowed to enter unless they are invited. Person Z: “Due to the fact that it’s hard to rent accommodation, a lot of single boys and girls live their uncles or aunties or other family members. A lot of times back in Thailand or Burma, they all live together, and they don’t mind to share accommodation. Whereas our kids who had grown up here, you have to knock on their doors before you enter.You need permission.”

The way the rooms of the house are perceived as public and private spaces are similar, where the main room functions like the kitchen stayed as semi-private, and the sleeping spaces remained as private for both houses. The living area for the Australian house became more restricted to the indoors, whereas in the Karen house, the front veranda was used as a public space as well. However, sharing bedrooms amongst siblings or even the wholel family is common, and there are no issues with privacy in this sense, whereas in a typical Australian house, it is normal for each child to have his or her own bedroom while the parents occupy the master bedroom.


043


occupation The number of people occupying the house may range from five to eight, with three generations of a family often staying under the same roof.

Person Y: “It takes time for them to occupy houses according to family members. They used to say though the family may be 8 members, but they can stay in 3 x 1 house.”

Sleeping spaces:

Sleeping spaces:

They sleep on the bamboo floors of their houses, with bamboo mats rolled out as their “beds”. They usually sleep in the bedrooms, as a whole family or split by gender, where the men may sleep in the living area. The kitchen as well may be used as resting/sleeping spaces during the colder months, where everyone would sleep aroud the fireplace.

Person W: “Although most have 3 bedrooms, there is no sense of over-crowding because the sitting room and dining room have beds in them and people quite happily sleep wherever there is a spare area. No belongings kept there, just a bed. When someone is tired they lie down and sleep. The children and teens share beds with same-sex siblings.The children don’t have their own rooms.They are used to all being together and get quite scared about being on their own in a bedroom.”

Eating spaces: The kitchen is situated at the back of the house, either as a separate room or on the back veranda. The whole family gathers here to eat, where they would sit on the floor around the main dishes on a round table. Living spaces: The main living spaces are the inner room and the back verenda, where the family would gather and meet and where they will accommodate their guests. The front veranda too, is used for communal gatherings.

Eating spaces: Person W: “Often the meals are eaten in the kitchen but even if they eat in the dining room, there can easily be a bed along one wall. By the way, most of them cook most meals outside, except for snacks and steaming the rice.” “Many still sit on the floor for preference, and often eat meals sitting on the floor round the main dish. That is slowly being replaced by sitting on dining room chairs but not necessarily in the dining room. And one thing that I find amusing is that they will often sit cross-legged on the dining-room chair as if they were on the floor.” Living spaces: Person W: “They use the rooms differently because apart from the laundry and kitchen, they see vacant rooms as multi-purpose. They don’t identify them as a dining room, sitting room, and three bedrooms. They see five rooms that can be lived in, and use them according to how many in the family, their ages and sex.”

The average number of people that lives in a three by one house is usually four to five people, but the Karen can fit up to eight people. It is observed that the Karen attempt to occupy the spaces as they did before in Burma, fitting their old customs, behaviours and habits into the new setting although the houses are much bigger and more spacious here compared to the traditional houses back in Thailand or Burma. They also prefer kitchens to be a separate room to the house and would often cook outdoors due to old customs.They view all the extra rooms as multipurpose rooms instead of bedrooms or lounges, but according to sources, they gradually start to adapt to the house as time passes by buying second hand furniture like tv sets and couches, and eventually start using the rooms as the original intent of the design.


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Figure 11. Scale (Diagram by author) Figure 12. Construction (Diagram by author) Figure 13. Spatial Layout (Diagram by author) Figure 14. Public and Private Spaces (Diagram by author) Figure 15. Occupation: Sleeping Spaces (Diagram by author) Figure 16. Occupation: Eating Spaces (Diagram by author) Figure 17. Occupation: Living Spaces (Diagram by author)

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C H A P T E R 6 r e f l e c t i o n

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The process of conducting the case study has determined the way the rooms are occupied in comparison of a traditional house back in Burma and a typical domestic house in Western Australia. Also in contrast to the original intent of the design and spatial occupation of the house, I have identified patterns of occupation that are dissimilar to how an Australian family might occupy the spaces and value the importance of each of the spaces. Australia’s national policies on multiculturalism are largely based on the intent of integration, with service providers catering to many different cultural groups. Non-dominant groups like the Karen are required to adopt the basic values and adhere to the laws and regulations of Australia, yet at the same time Australia provides a setting of acceptance for multicultural groups. The adaptation mechanisms undertaken by the Karen in a new cultural housing environment are distinctive of the characteristics of acculturation, where they still hold onto their customs, traditions and habits from their original culture. This also applies to the theory of place-identity, where adaptation takes place with them holding on to their culture as a way of maintaining and preserving their sense of identity when in a new socio-cultural and physical environment. Whereas the homes do provide an extent of satisfaction in terms of physiological needs, it does not entirely fulfil one’s cultural and social needs. Albeit the fact that the new dwellings did not fit or adapt well to their original cultural houses, the personalisation or modification of the spaces to meet their preferences did allow them to nurture a greater sense of belonging and hence maintain their well-beings and also rebuild their self-identities. The process of transition to establish and maintain a stable and reciprocal relationship within a new home takes many forms, and it is different for every individual and community. Cultural adaptation and culture too, is a dynamic and complex matter, and especially in this study as the Karen culture is not of my own. The information is derived from primary and secondary data collection methods, and some of the cultural representations may be flawed due to limitations or inaccessibility of data. Housing in Australia is vastly diverse, and the term “house” alone triggers different responses and descriptions from different people. Different time periods and regions means different materials, building quality, building sizes and styles, construction methods, building codes and spatial layouts. Each house also caters for different people, according to tastes and preferences, locations and financial capabilities.While this is one of the dynamic aspects of this research, the housing provided for humanitarian groups like the Karen however, still steered towards the concept of assimilation where major characteristics of the original cultural group is lost as the home environment does not facilitate in representing an individual’s cultural heritage and identity. The adaptability and responsiveness of the internal spaces of the homes can be improved through incorporating cultural values and customs of the Karen to foster a sense of belonging and identity, and this concept also can be applicable to other cultural groups who have been resettled in Australia through the humanitarian settlement program.

048


c o n c l u s i o n The cultural adaptation of the home for communities such as the Karen, manifests in many different forms, like the spatial occupation and functions, and continuity of cultural practices. By focusing on one cultural group, it has enabled the emphasis of the dissertation to derive a set of design objectives for next semester’s design scheme. Influences of culture and identity in the home are vital to re-establishing a sense of belonging, hence designers should strive towards designing culturally responsive buildings that foster and nurture the well-being and self-identity of occupants. The aims of the space will facilitate Karen immigrants in resettling and regaining their sense of identity and belonging, while also gradually integrating and adopting the values of the Australian society. Site location:

Suburban areas in metropolitan Perth or in country towns.

Function:

To provide culturally adaptive modular housing for the Karen community in Perth.

Site context: Existing site with existing vegetation; nature. Accessible to transportation systems and adjacent services.

Site pragmatics: 1. Outdoor spaces to be open and can allow for growing or planting vegetation. 2.Ventilation to allow for thermal sustainability throughout whole structure. 3. Bamboo and timber will be used as main materials to provide familiarity of cultural housing. 4. The fireplace to symbolise the “hearth� as it is central to the home for the Karen. 5. Roof skylights to allow natural light into the house, similar to thatch roofing in traditional Karen houses. 6. Stilts may be compromised with a second storey, also by allowing access directly to the first floor. 7. Sleeping spaces to be adaptable for public and private areas. 8. Eating spaces to accommodate communal eating, and to be connected with the kitchen and incorporate floor space for dining. 9. Cooking facilities to be adapted to suit both indoors and outdoors cooking, allowing for flexibility. 10. Living spaces to be open around the house, and can be incorporated through verandas or balconies.

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According to Rapoport (1969, 129), all housing needs to achieve four objectives in order to be successful: To be socially and culturally valid; to be sufficiently economical to ensure the greatest number can afford it; to ensure the maintenance of the health of the occupants; to minimise of maintenance over life of the building.

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Figure 1.Venn diagram of culture, identity and home (Diagram by author). Figure 2. Structure of Content and Information flow (Diagram by author). Figure 3. Forced Displacement Timeline (Diagram by author). Figure 4. Maslow, A. 1954. Maslow’s hierarchy of Needs. http://www.timlebon.com/ (accessed April 4, 2012). Figure 5. Israel T. 2003. Home as Self-Actualisation. Some Place like home: Using Design Psychology to Create Ideal Places. Britain: Wiley-Academy. Figure 6. Kim, K. 1988. Stress Adaptation Growth Model. Communication and Cross-Cultural Adaptation: An integrative Theory. USA: Multilingual Matters Ltd. Figure 7. Berry, J. W. 1997. Model of Acculturation: Responses. Immigration, Acculturation, Adaptation. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 46(1): 5-34. UNIGE. http://www.unige.ch/ (accessed March 30, 2012). Figure 8. The cross-cultural adaptation process and the development of place-identity. 2012. (Diagram by author). Figure 9. Thailand Burma Border Consortium. 2012. TBBC’s camp population figures: Burmese Border Displaced Persons: February 2012. http://www.tbbc.org/ (accessed April 25, 2012). Figure 10. WA Community Profiles. 2006. Distribution of Burma-born people by settlement pattern in Perth Metropolitan Area 2006. http://www.omi.wa.gov.au/ (accessed May 12, 2012). Figure 11. Scale (Diagram by author). Figure 12. Construction (Diagram by author). Figure 13. Spatial Layout (Diagram by author). Figure 14. Public and Private Spaces (Diagram by author). Figure 15. Occupation: Sleeping Spaces (Diagram by author). Figure 16. Occupation: Eating Spaces (Diagram by author). Figure 17. Occupation: Living Spaces (Diagram by author).

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Questions and answers from the semi-structured interviews: 1. How long have you been working with the Karen community? W – The Karen began coming here about 4 years ago to work at WAMMCO abattoir and because they are almost all Baptist, they were coming to our church. I was asked to help them because it was a continuation of what I was already doing with the Chinese 457 visa workers. X – The church building is also used by a Karen Church, so the Karen Church has been here for 13-14 years, they’ve been here quite a long time and they have their own pastor. They’ve always used this as a location but the church had the Karen has developed a relationship. Work together a lot, missions. Fundraising 25000 dollars, 110 people into a training workshop – blacksmith, basic electronics, sewing and weaving. Skills that get recognised in western countries, so they have something they can do when they get relocated to western countries. Y - To be honest, since the day I arrived here. I’ve been doing this for long, since I was back in Burma. I am officially doing settlement grants work, career development officer. … To speak simply, it’s finding jobs for people. And for settlement as well, to help people find places to stay, how to get accustomed to Australia, how to assimilate, how to integrate, what sort of virtue do we need. And most of all, how to contribute to Australia, not to receive, but to give. Z - My first language is Karen. Ever since I came to Australia in 1995, I worked as a volunteer as a general secretary for the Karen Welfare Association. I was working for the department of immigration before I came to Perth with my family. 2. How is the transition for them to relocate to Australia in terms of housing? W – In the refugee camp they had so little, no furniture, no crockery and always had to be ready to flee into the forest if the soldiers came over the Thai border from Burma to shoot up the camp. So they only had what they could grab and run with. They also had no money, most couldn’t drive a car, and in the cities where they were placed, they were usually a very long way from other Karen. It meant they were isolated and dependent on the few who had transport and could speak English. X – n/a Y – Training – Housing organisation, FICT, tenancy training, teach you how to pay rent, how to keep the house. …Encourage them to buy homes. Z – It is a totally different housing environment. Because a lot of them, before they came to Australia, they were in the refugee camps at least 10, some of them 20 years. The least are 5 years. 10-20 years process, before they can relocate. So they were displaced in the camp for several years before they came here. Housing in the camps is very different, but they do have basic things like electricity, separate toilets… 3. What are the common issues for the Karen people when resettling into Australian homes? W – n/a X – Big transition. Second third generations in the camps, born in camps. A whole new process of learning new language and culture. Just being free. We found that, we’ve done some Karen weddings; a lot of the Karen people have a small view of the world. Having big career goals and getting some training to go on and do something, isn’t even a thing. It’s to get a small job and get a house, and that’s it. Paul, who’s worked with a lot of the people, he’s always trying to inspire them to think bigger and he finds that as an issue.

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Y – When they first arrive, it’s really hard, because I saw many families sleeping together in one room. Too enclosed, they feel like they are imprisoned, we usually open our windows and doors when we sleep. That’s a bit hard for them to get used to. They feel like imprisoned with security doors and windows. They are not used to games room, study room, lounge room. While watching TV they may lie down on the floor in lounge room. I witnessed one whole family staying in the lounge room of one motel. The country people rarely use cot or bed but floor. They normally spend time talking to each other or telling stories to the kids at bedtime. For those from cities it is almost the same like Australians. You may notice the Japanese home style. Very similar to that. We used to sit and eat on the floor. We detest wearing slipper in the house. Z – They have to learn skills of how to maintain a house once they got it, and also how to deal with real estate issues. A lot of times we assist them with the issues, and most of these issues come from accommodation, rental and tenancy. Are they provided with these houses? No, from first hand, service providers assist them in finding accommodation, and then afterwards, we assist them in finding accommodation further to settle, so we have accommodation officers here to assist them. Rental – the very first 2 weeks, that’s with HSS that they go through, but I believe they don’t have to pay for the first 2 weeks. Not my field, have to ask someone else. Service providers pay for first 2 weeks. 4. Have you visited any Karen homes here? W – I visit their homes on a regular basis, having often found the home for them to rent and helped them with paperwork. Now they are getting settled and know their way round, they help each other to rent or buy homes here. I am invited to birthday parties and also house blessings.When they buy their own home they hold a church service there and I’m often invited. At one time I was holding English classes for some stay-at-home mums and also classes for the teenage on Saturday mornings, in their homes, but now another lady takes the mums and I have the teens to my home. Family dynamics.They are very respectful of their elders and the young people are obedient to parents in a way, which is no longer the case with Oz children. If teenagers are told they could not attend a function because it wasn’t considered appropriate or in line with Christian values, then they listen to the parents and obey. They also discuss their futures and their worries with their elders. They are gentle people who love their children dearly and want the best for them. They teach their children from babyhood that they need to care for the old ones, and work, not be lazy. Respect for others is very strong with them? There are a few families where 3 and in one case 4 generations all live happily together. Up to now, they tend to have larger families than Oz families. 5 children is quite a normal figure and many have more. Katanning is a small town and the Karen like living near each other. One street has 6 families living next door to each other because there are duplexes there. Another street has 9 families there again with some in a row of units. Approximately 10 families have bought their own homes since they moved here about 3 years ago. X – Yes. Very humbly. Family is very important. Lots of communal eating, everyone comes, and they have fantastic big curry nights. A lot that goes on. Big significant group in Girrawheen, Balga, Koondoola, live reasonably close to each other. Y – n/a Z – n/a 5. From your experience, how do they occupy the house differently? (Compared to the original intent of the design.) W – Although most have 3 bedrooms, there is no sense of over-crowding because sitting room and dining room have beds in them and people quite happily sleep whoever there is a spare area. At first they had mattresses on the floor but as they got organized they bought second-hand beds and other bits of 2nd hand furniture.The children and teens share beds with same-sex siblings. No, children don’t have their own rooms.They are used to all being together and get quite scared about being on their own in a bedroom. They don’t keep rooms for a set purpose the way we do. Often the meals are eaten in the kitchen but even if they eat in the dining room, there can easily be a bed along one wall. No belongings kept there, just a bed. When someone is tired they lie down and sleep. I think it continues after they have been here for a few years because all our local people have now been in Australia for some time and they continue to live in a group

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way. By the way, most of them cook most meals outside, except for snacks and steaming the rice. On the covered verandah outside the back door they have a small table and on it is a selection of spices, pans etc. They seem to get small gas bottles attached to a burner. I think campers usually use them. On the concrete floor they will have a huge tub of chili stew or some such. They add greens that they grow in the garden. It’s a bit like having a BBQ set-up but not quite as sophisticated and a regular thing rather than just for special occasions. Mind you, I’m not saying that every single one does this, as some have bought their own houses here now and one or two have big kitchens where more seems to be cooked inside. When renting a house they always hope for one with a gas stove, not electric, but it’s mainly used for boiling stuff on the top, not for baking. Refugee camps are not the place to learn fancy cooking. It all has to be boiled in a pot, as there is nothing else and usually no electricity anyway. As I’ve mentioned above, they use the rooms differently because apart from the laundry and kitchen, they see vacant rooms as multi-purpose. They don’t identify them as dining room, sitting room, 3 bedrooms. They see 5 rooms that can be lived in, and use them according to how many in the family, their ages and sex. Many still sit on the floor for preference, and often eat meals sitting on the floor round the main dish. That is slowly being replaced by sitting on dining room chairs but not necessarily in the dining room. --- And one thing that I find amusing is that they will often sit cross-legged on the dining-room chair as if they were on the floor. Traditionally they eat their food with their fingers but now they are gradually adapting to Western culture and using utensils. X – No one wears their shoes inside. Number of people per room, not just one person per room. Kids share their rooms. Y – It takes time for them to occupy houses according to family members. They used to say though the family may be 8 members, but they can stay in 3 x 1 house. Z – They still sleep together as a family. Especially with the younger children. Some teenagers want their own space. Provided with accommodation training, how to use a gas stove, how to turn on the lights, how to use washing machines, hot and cold water. Just the basic things, how to use vacuum cleaners.You got to show every piece in the house, the doors as well, locks, to make sure they lock it, and take the keys. 6. Do they personalise or customise the house? If so, how do they personalise it? W – They personalise the main sitting room with pictures, usually of Jesus, or other religious pictures and also lots of photos.There is a settee and a couple of fireside chairs, (all second-hand) a coffee table and pretty cloths to cover the table. X – One’s I’ve been in are in Balga or Girrawheen.Very asian, lots of bling everywhere, big tv. Y – Bedrooms are for female and halls are for male. We use mosquito nets and mats. They prefer open space. For Buddhists they keep the altar. They offer alms and flower vase. They use to worship early and at bedtime. Mostly men can sleep underneath the altar. For timber houses the floor planks should be parallel to the road. It should never be in perpendicular. They prefer sleeping in parallel with the road out side. If they keep the ladder it steps should be odd number i.e. 1,3,5,7. They are superstitious. If they have more than one ladder, it should be in parallel not facing. In villages they keep one earthen water jar with long handled bowl normally made of coconut shell for feet washing. Suppose we are allowed to build houses I strongly believe that they’ll love to have stilt houses with narrow angle roofing. They used to ask me why the Australians love flat roof houses. Z – A lot of them maintain the houses well. They decorate the house a lot. They don’t have a lot from the past; they don’t even have their birth certificates, marriage certificates. If they give birth in the camps, they only get a certificate of recognition. 7. Are there any community practices/rituals/habits that Karen people do? Special events? What is the community like?

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W – Most of the Karen here attend church every Sunday afternoon using a hall belonging to Katanning Baptist church.They have an hour of Sunday school first including for teenagers and an hour’s service. Sometimes the teenagers lead the service and some also play the keyboard and guitars. In addition, some come to the regular morning service and I take the teens out halfway through for a lesson. A couple of their teens have been baptized in our morning service and 3 more will be baptized soon. Every year there is the Karen New Year celebration and invitations go to the Shire and politicians as well as the local churches. It is well attended and a very interesting event. Karen also take part in the annual Harmony Festival. The whole community is very well respected because they are a quiet, hard-working, polite, helpful group. They don’t drink, do drugs or gamble so their life-style is harmonious and healthy. X – They lead very spiritual lives, and Baptist is big there. Religion is very important. It is very much a hierarchal structure, within the religious community, where the pastor is the pinnacle man, it’s like that in Thailand at the border too. The Church is big, and they bought buses to drive over to Girrawheen, Balga, Koondoola to pick up all the people and drive back here. Church for them normally starts at 1 and finishes at about 5. Around 200-250 people. And they usually have lunch here and the women have these massive pots, they’ll cook and have a big feed. If there’s like a baptism, that’s a big celebration. Y – n/a Z – Majority of the Karen are Christians, where they go to the churches on Sundays, but we also have Karen Buddhists, and also Muslims.Whereas the Karen Buddhist, we have the Burmese monastery where sometimes they may go there, they get together. And there are different denominations within the Christians. So they go to different churches, but majority of them go to Baptist churches, so we have churches in Bentley, Katanning, Kelmscott, Girrawheen, one in city as well. Every church has about 150-200 congregations. They tend to stay closer to each other in like closer suburbs. Like a lot of them now live around Cannington, Gosnells, area in the south, and also Langford, Kelmscott… But most of them are buying houses in Gosnells. And for north of the river, mainly in Girrawheen, Koondoola, Balga. 8. What house type do they generally stay in now? Is there more than one family in a house? Separate house Semi-detached/row/terrace/townhouse Flat/apartment Other dwelling W – They have extended family living in some of the homes. Some in rental, some buying, some in units, and others in older, 3 bedrooms. Properties. X – Usually one family in the house. Home west houses, very modest. Just separate houses, 3 by 1’s or 4 by 1’s. Y – Normal houses, we link with real estate, REIWA. Small houses, with one family in each house. And usually for the single people, share houses. Z – Same accommodation as others, a lot of times, older houses, cause they can’t afford to pay higher fees, so the conditions are quite minimal, like almost running down. And I’ve experienced a few times, the roof collapsed. Houses built in 1980s, 90s. Sometimes they’re lucky, they get habitable houses, like most of them are but a lot of them have wears and tears like, drainage problems, leakages, and toilets. 9. Do most of them live under the same roof as a nuclear family? Or with extended family as well? W – If a grandparent comes to Katanning, they live with the family. Same goes for uncles, cousins, aunts etc. One family has 7 children but I discovered recently that some of the children are cousins, not siblings. Their father is dead and they live with uncle. X – Nuclear family. Maybe sometimes just grandma. Y – In Burma, in the cities, it is more or less like here. But the difference is, three generations live together. For me, my brother in law, my family and my in-laws and my son, we live under the same roof, we share the same food, but my family we live in one room, that sort of thing. We don’t

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have any Australian system, we don’t need any appointments, we can walk into your house, open your pot and pan, “Oh I love that” and you just help yourself. That is different to Australian. The kids are starting to get used to Australian culture, and they are starting to have their own rooms, not share. Z – Sometimes nuclear family, but a lot of times they prefer to have extended family. Due to the fact that it’s hard to rent accommodation, a lot of single boys and girls live their uncles or aunties or other family members. A lot of times back in Thailand, Burma or Malaysia, they all live together, and they don’t mind to share accommodation. Whereas our kids who grown up here, you have to knock on their doors before you enter. You need permission.

10. What do you think is still lacking in terms of the needs of the Karen people within the community? W – More English help and more training opportunities, and then more local jobs. We lose so many of our own young people because the jobs simply don’t exist here. X – I think they need advocates. I know a lot of what Paul does is when the Karen people get sucked into dodgy deals and all these things which they don’t understand what they’re really doing, and big phone bills and they say yes, yes, yes on the phone and people will sell them these things and they get these big bills. And Paul does a lot of undoing these deals, so they need someone to step in and explain the culture to them. And like, where they’ve come from, I did this wedding for this Karen girl, and she had no birth papers, like “Where are you born?” “In the jungle.” So she had to pick a birthday, and then they write their name different, they’ll have 3 or 4 different spellings of their names, and she spelt her name different on the marriage certificate, on the intention to marry, and the people were going what’s going on? And had to redo it all over again and we had to explain to her, one spelling only. And she goes, oh. So they don’t have a concept about litigial?? system where everything is, “how do you prove who I am?” “what are you talking about?” “100 points” “what’s that?” they don’t have a concept of that. “I’m such and such and I’m who’s daughter. I’m from there.” “How do you prove it?” “I’ll get my mom” And it’s like that. I don’t get why they don’t get some sort of proof of identity when they migrate over. Cause when marry people, they don’t have passports, they have travel documents, and they don’t mean anything. And they don’t use that as identification for that. They come here with no passport, no birth certificate, but they might have something, and all our different agencies require different documents. So that becomes a real issue, so if they do come, they should be given a passport or some sort of standard identification. So when we marry them, we have to go through realms and realms of paper, writing down their story, stat deck to prove who they are, it’s a really involved process. So I’ll have to do that, and if I can’t do it then Paul will come and help me with their story. Y – I consider Australia home, and I feel that I’m accepted here. Because that acceptance is very very important. I think integration is more than that. Once we have a road warden, community work. But I want them to integrate into the Australian society as well, not just our own society. And the worst thing with every community is the creation of your comfort zone.You got assistance from centrelink, and rent is this much, food is this much, bills are this much, and you have this much left, and you’re happy. But I say, you must give tax to Aus, you must contribute. That is the sweat of the people, that’s the way I taught them, now many of them listen to me, I should say, and they try to find jobs. … Z – Lacking is right now, is that service providers can’t find accommodation closer to where the majority of where the Karen are living, so they have to put them far, and we have to help them look for accommodation. Accommodation is the main factor that they are unable to, like we have a few people still sharing with one another, some of them we can’t accommodation at all for a long time. So they stay with someone while they’re waiting, and that someone else too, because either they’re renting or have large number of children, and they share. We have this family spirit. 11. In terms of identity and adaptation to housing, do you have any additional comments? W – n/a X – n/a

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Y – I think multiculturalism is not confined only to culture and custom. Different design of the structure could make it more beautiful. Many of my people, they buy homes, the goal is that, from my own assumption, the end of refugee life in Australia is the day you buy a home.You are 100% integrated into the society, I might be wrong but this is my definition. So when you have a home of your own, then nobody can chase you out. Z – The only comment I can give is that everything is new, so they have to learn from basics, how to use basic things that we take for granted. So together with the legal and tenancy issues, they have to learn as well to adapt into Australian culture and settlement.

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c u lt u r a l i n t e g r at i o n t h e k a r e n r e f u g e e c o m m u n i t y o f p e rt h

volume two


“Hunger pangs, the chills of winter, the fear of violence, and the disturbance from noise are all facts of human consciousness. It makes little sense to distinguish between them by attributing some to the body and others to the mind.The hunger, the chill and the fear are on equal footing with the need for peace, privacy, space, harmony, order, or colour.To the best of a psychologist’s knowledge, the priorities are by no means self-evident. Dignity, a sense of pride, congeniality, a feeling of ease – these are primary needs, which must be seriously considered when the welfare of human beings is under discussion.” Rudolf Arnheim (Malnar 2004, 27)


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Following the past semester’s research project, the ethnographic research and theories of home, identity and cultural adaptation has driven this design phase to be focused on exploring meaningful spatial experiences of spaces and the home. From the ‘typical’ Australian domestic housing that was investigated, it was found that the occupation patterns and value of importance are different, and the original function of the rooms were found to be misused, hence the new ‘homes’ occupied by these groups were considered inadequate, culturally and structurally. The research findings concluded that the process of adapting and integrating into a new environment is integral for newly-arrived refugees or humanitarian entrants – that holding onto their original culture allows them to maintain and preserve their sense of identity as well as cultural identity when in a new socio-cultural and physical environment. The design phase of this research focuses on developing an interior spatial environment that is safe, supportive and community-orientated, allowing the newly-arrived Karen refugees to adapt and integrate into the Australian environment, while maintaining their cultural roots and practices.The design proposal shall create an integrative space that allows for spaces of healing, learning and adapting for the Karen community. This will be undertaken through the adaptation of an existing site, where the development of the space shall involve a considered approach and incorporation of the cultural significance of the Karen people, and how the pragmatics and the spatial qualities of a space can form responsive and positive experiential environments.

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Abstract Contents

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Introduction Chapter 1: Sensibility [Responsiveness and Integration] The Karen Home Adapting the Home Alternative Responses Design Response Research Question and Objectives

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Chapter 2: Coming to our Senses [Theoretical Precedents] Threshold Journey Senses In a sense...

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Chapter 3: Making Sense [Design Language] Site Selection and Analysis Design Brief Design Pragmatics Design Approach Design Outcome

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Chapter 4: In a Sense‌ [Conclusion] Reflection

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List of Figure List of Images Reference List Bibliography Appendix

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The contents of this dissertation will begin with chapter one further analysing the context and spatial qualities of the ‘typical’ WA domestic housing for Karen refugees, reflecting on the issue of unfeasibility of adapting the WA house to suit the cultural needs of the Karen refugees. To fully represent one’s cultural heritage and identity, the notion of integration, where the synthesis of two cultures allows for cultural integrity to be maintained, needs to be addressed and applied. The idea of an integration centre, an amalgamation of a halfway house and a community centre, emerged, which therefore drove the design language for the project. The second chapter explores the threshold and the experience of the home and journey, leading to theories of the experience of space. A discussion on how our experience is informed through all our bodily senses, preceding the design approach and development. The design language shall be developed in chapter three, through the combination of a series of design pragmatics and the spatial requirements for the integration centre. The proposed design aims will then be integrated into the selected site, illustrated through the final design proposal. Chapter four reflects on the conceived notion of integrative cultural centres to be utilised for various cultural groups, setting out another set of rules which can allow the application to be utilised for other cultures.

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responsiveness and integration

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Further analysis of the traditional vernacular Karen house was undertaken to further establish how the spatial experience could be translated into a ‘typical’ Australian house.

“The bamboo steps led up into a living room on the left, and to the right was a bedroom. We used to sleep on rush matting laid out on the bamboo floor.To the right of our bedroom was a spare room, with a couple of bamboo-framed beds in it, for guests. At the back of the house was the kitchen. It had an earthen floor for a hearth, and three stones arranged in a triangle. Firewood would be pushed into the space between the stones, and a cooking pot balanced on top. Above the hearth was a shelf for drying foods – chilli, vegetables, meat and mushrooms.” (Phan and Lewis 2009, 33)

Figure 1. Spatial analysis of the Karen Home

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Spatial Functions Cooking area

Traditional Karen House Acts as the hearth of the house

Typical WA House Space for cooking and eating only

Design Response Adaptable for indoors/outdoors cooking and is separate from the rest of the house

Central space for cooking, eating, living (entertaining guests) and sleeping

Most older houses has separate kitchen from dining

Floor spaces for dining, living and sleeping

Separate from the rest of the house Cooking done indoor or outdoor

Newer houses usually have open plan layouts of kitchen, dining and living

Fireplace acts as centrality of space. Indoors or outdoors

No ventilation system by having no ceiling, hence the smoke escapes through the thatch roof

Indoor kitchen Existing HVAC system with gas, electric and indoor plumbing utilities

Hanging shelf above fireplace with three tiers Earthen pot for water storage Sleeping area

Dining area

Small rooms but open and airy, using woven bamboo walls

Small rooms but using plasterboard/ brick/ concrete

Bigger rooms with adaptable walls which can become separate rooms if needed

Shared between whole families or separated by gender

Individual rooms, where most children each have own rooms

Using screens or permeable material to allow for more openness

Communal eating usually in the kitchen or verandas

Usually have separate dining areas

Incorporate communal dining areas indoors and outdoors

Dining on furniture

Dining on the floor or with a low table Living area

Small area for entertaining guests

Bigger space as it is more valued

Allow areas to accommodate sleeping

Used as sleeping area as well

Formal living area for entertaining guests and informal space for relaxing

Simple, flexible space that can accommodate furniture or no furniture

Lounge and family rooms and other function rooms like games room or TV room, etc.

 

Figure 2. Spatial Functions and Design Responses

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In the following exercise, alternative adaptations were investigated and analysed to meet cultural needs of a Karen family, and below shows four different design responses to the ‘typical’ Australian house that is occupied by a Karen family.

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Figure 3. Original spatial plan

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Figure 4. Adaptation options

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“Due to the involuntary and traumatic nature of their departure, most had little chance to prepare themselves psychologically for life in the new country. Particularly during the initial resettlement phase, many suffered from a deep psychological dislocation and sense of loss.” (Kim 1988, 5)

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An initial survey of typical housing stock in Balga, Girrawheen and Cannington was undertaken to determine the feasibility of adapting the existing house to fully suit a Karen family’s needs. It was concluded that through testing and re-adapting the existing model, although renovation and adaptation is possible, it is an expensive choice and the housing environment would still not be fully responsive, culturally and structurally, for new Karen refugees. Other building typologies were then examined, like, the possibility of designing new modular housing, which however, was deemed to be too architectural as I am unfamiliar with the BCA. Another possibility of addressing the need of a transition space to assist newly arrived Karen refugees with the process of integration into the Australian society arose, and was determined as a better alternative. The idea of integration, to value the maintenance of one’s cultural identity whilst adopting to the host culture, was found to mitigate better social and psychological well-being. While Australian national policies for refugees and humanitarian entrants support of their integration into the Australian society, the housing situation forces them to assimilate into the new domestic structures, losing their old habits, customs and ways of life. As Buttimer (1980, 166) puts it, an individual’s cultural and personal identity correlates with their place-identity, and losing one’s home, whether physical or psychological, are perceived as an impeding threat to a person’s identity. Places that allow for rootednesss allow for positive “attachment, retention and development of self-image”, hence concluding that physical settings play an essential part in the sense and experience of well-being (Godkin, 1980, 83).

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the act of amalgamating a racial or religious group with an existing community. 1

An integration centre, which is a combination between a halfway house and a community centre, as a part of an assisted integration program for the new Karen refugees has been devised, which would incorporate appropriate spatial functions and experiential qualities which would be discussed in Chapter 3.

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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Harper Collins Publishers. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/integration

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To create an integrative community centre that provides an opportunity for Karen refugees to acclimatise and integrate into the Australian society in a safe, supportive and community-orientated environment.

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Identify the responsiveness or adaptability of internal spaces for Karen refugees in typical Western Australian housing and how a sense of belonging and cultural identity can be translated and fostered in a different setting. Provide an experiential design language to allow gradual integration into Australian society whilst allowing the continuity of cultural domestic practices. Allow for the re-establishment of a sense of identity and belonging for Karen refugees by creating a design scheme that provides a culturally sustainable and efficient integration centre.

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C H A P T E R 2 c o m i n g to o u r s e n s e s theoretical precedents

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the idea of the threshold

What is a threshold? The point between point A and point B.The “doorway”. What happens there? What causes the tipping point of change? It is the unexplainable moment of in-between-ness.

“Thresholds are where transformations begin, where exchange between unlikely things occur, and where identities are declared. Thresholds hold the potential of an inclusive realm, where the introduction and maintenance of difference is possible. Unlike an idea of inclusion as “melting pot”, where identities are blurred to create a compromised whole, threshold as an operation entails the preservation of differences, as well as the creation of something new from their coexistence” (Geel 2005, 53). The threshold is the transition between the interiority and exteriority, the moment where both are merged, the captured moment of recognition.The threshold facilitates the experiential design language of the integrative community centre, seen as a transition point between the old and new, the in-between of the physical and psychological journey the Karen people have undergone to start anew. By containing the threshold space through the involvement of all the senses, which includes the body through activity, the threshold space becomes more than a “passing-through space”, inducing a contemplative relationship between person and space. The quality of the threshold enhances the journey, allowing for the experience of the gradual exploration between the old and new, the unexpected and the expected, the uncertainty and security, and the fear and the hope, to be receptive and all encompassing.

Figure 5. In-between

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the experience of the home and journey

Tucker (1994) described migration as a means to ensure survival, that “home-searching is a basic trait of human nature”.

Home can be defined as being either a physical dwelling, one’s homeland, an extension of self, or even a constellation of relationships that is represented as a spatial and relational realm – a place of origin or a point of destination. Home itself, is a highly complex system of ordered relations with place, an order that orients us in space, in time, and in society (Dovey 1985). But the phenomenon of home is more than the experience of being oriented within a familiar order it also means to be identified with the place in which we dwell. A diversely subjective matter, as it holds various experiential, identity-related perspectives. Here we focus on the topic of “home” as a journey.The movement away from home is characterised as a dynamic, dialectic, and developmental experience. The sense of home and the intertwined sense of identity are interlinked and are the mutual basis of our existence that become disrupted in the experience of transition (Valsiner 2012). Mallett (2004) states, “the experience of migrants and refugees claim that ideas about staying, leaving and journeying are integrally associated with notions of home. These ideas are in turn linked to notions of dependency, interdependence and autonomy, continuity and dis/location”. Home is the resting point and refuge from which we move out from, then return, described by Buttimer (1980), as “like breathing in and out, most life forms need a home and horizons to reach outward.” These journeys then help us understand and establish the thresholds and boundaries of home, particularly boundaries associated with time and the experience of being at home (Dovey 1985). And likewise, an individual’s experience of home influences the meaning and significance of their journeys beyond it, impacting their sense of identity and understanding of home. This is a transactional relationship between the person and the environment, the dialectic process between understanding the concept of home as a dynamic and process-oriented.According to Dovey (1985), to experience the meaning of home is to experience its dialectics: the home and non-home, rupture and continuity, novelty and everydayness, changing and remaining.There is no sense of home unless there is also journeying, in a sense, without homelessness, we would not be concerned with what home means.

Figure 6 and 7. Journey from home

Heidegger stresses the importance of building or making to our notion of home and our very existence. He claims that our building activities are integrally associated with and arise out of our capacity to dwell. We build, physically or mentally, because it is the “homeland” of our thoughts. In this case, the Karen people who arrive in Australia are yearning for a home. The loss of home, family, and roots can cause a lack of self-worth, and the questioning of one’s identity, emphasizing the link between one’s cultural and personal identity and place-identity.The physical settings play an integral part in the sense and experience of one’s well-being, stressing the connection between one’s attachment to meaningful places and the development of a positive self-image (Godkin 1980, 83). The design of a space can emphasize the aspects of self-identity in the space and also the awareness of one’s sense of belonging and community.

To be “home” involves knowing where and who you are, being oriented in space and inhabiting a secure centre. (Dovey 1985) 012


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the sensitisation of space and experience

From the ethnographic approach that was employed last semester, this semester, a phenomenological approach was used, where instead of merely producing a specific design that incorporated only the cultural research findings; this approach allowed me to explore and deepen my understanding of lived spaces. A study of the meaningful spatial experiences –the idea of the threshold, the home and journey and phenomenology – was undertaken. Steven Holl (1996,11) states that, “phenomenology concerns the study of essences; architecture has the potential to put essences back into existence. By weaving form, space, and light, architecture can elevate the experience of daily life through the various phenomena that emerge from specific sites, programs, and architectural on another, structure, material, space, colour, light and shadow intertwine in the fabrication of architecture.” Phenomenology addresses all the senses and transcends experience to become an unconscious connotation, giving depth and intensity to an experience. It is a study of experience or consciousness through the awareness of one’s senses. It is the ‘study of phenomena’, of how we experience things as they appear from a subjective view, and hence how we place meaning upon things we experienced in our lives.The use of our sensorial elements gives depth to an experience, these being sight, sound, touch, taste, smell and scale. “Man’s experience with buildings is mainly visual. This view is generally supported by both architects and behavioural researchers, although for different reasons. The tradition of architecture supports the importance of visual qualities, while research findings in psychology indicate that man typically obtains more information by visual means than by all other senses.” (Malnar 2004, 42)

Pallasmaa (2005, 11) states that architecture should stimulate all the senses and thus “fuse our image of self with our experience of the world” before architecture can become lifeenhancing. He suggests that architecture strengthens a sense of self and reality by articulating our experience of “being-in-theworld”.

Focusing on the theory of phenomenology by Juhani Pallasmaa, where he states that at present time, due to the technology that has allowed an increase in the pace of life, it has induced a visual dominance in our culture today. It has separated and suppressed the other senses, neglecting the body and its senses. In terms of architecture, the visual emphasis is “causing us to live increasingly in a perpetual present, flattened by speed and simultaneity” (Pallasmaa and Holl 2005, 21). As we are sensory beings, it is impossible to conceive of self without the physical means of gathering information, with perception being an inherently interactive and wholly participatory process. Sight, however, is the only sense that manages to keep up with the world of technology we live in today, and especially crucial in the world of design and architecture. We predominantly use sight to learn and gain information as well, where our memories recognise and retain these visual elements. This world of the eye has produced many visually stimulating buildings, yet it only allows for watching, viewing, looking, seeing and observing. The real essence of human beings to be able to feel and experience has been lost. “Architecture is the art of reconciliation between ourselves and the world, and this mediation takes place through the senses” (Pallasmaa 1994).

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These visually compelling buildings are designed to be seen, but other sources of sensory stimulation are minimized. In order to address this loss of sensorial experience, the awareness of the environment needs to be made known and embodied, while all the bodily senses to be saturated and responsive within this experience. “Every touching experience of architecture is multisensory; qualities of space, matter and scale are measured equally by the eye, ear, nose, skin, tongue, skeleton and muscle” (Pallasmaa and Holl 2005, 41). Our bodies, “are moving, changing, permeable and fluid… the bodies we are require different spatial and physical conditions depending upon the task or activity at hand, depending upon characteristics of age, gender, size and culture, and depending upon the passage of time” (Malnar 2004, 42).These experiences are perceived by our senses and are interpreted by our minds. Our sensory selves need to be embodied and acknowledged in designing an environment as design results from considerations of human qualities, introducing essential, intrinsic meanings and values to the human experience, hence creating an intimacy between person and environment. In the following pages, the importance of the multi-sensory experience within the realms of place-making is emphasized upon, with each of the senses and their importance to the meaning and essence of experience investigated.

“Space, Lefebvre maintains, is not read but experienced by means of the body which walks, smells, tastes and in short lives a space” (Wiles 2003, 10)

“Phenomenology proclaims that the sense should be stimulated by the design and not just the visual stimulus like many buildings are doing today. “By using the entire stimuli the architect is creating a journey through each threshold… This journey is a memorable one where the traveller through the architects design could incept a positive idea.” (Dernee n.d.)

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Holl emphasizes on the importance of light as space cannot be experienced without it. He writes: “Light’s shadow and shade, its different sources, its opacity, transparency, and conditions of reflection and refraction intertwine to define or redefine space.” (Holl 1989, 11) Holl, in the preface of ‘The Eyes of the Skin’, (Pallasmaa 2005, 7) suggests the way a place feels, with its smells and sounds, is as important as the way it looks.

The quality of architecture is determined by the character of one’s peripheral vision. The unfocused realm of peripheral vision allows us to perceive the realities of a space, and is just as important to the experience of the space as the focused realm of our vision. The unconscious perception of peripheral vision feeds us the bodily and spatial experience that allows us to integrate with the space. The integration is unlike the experience of focused vision, which “pushes us out of the spaces, making us mere spectators” (Pallasmaa 2005, 13). Pallasmaa also suggests that traditional vernacular architecture has an established connection with the implied wisdom of the body and hence, it is grounded in sensorial elements of touch and movement.

Image 1. Sight

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“The sound measures space and makes its scale comprehensible. We stroke the boundaries of the space with our ears” (Pallasmaa 2005, 51). Our hearing is a sensory experience of incorporation, omni-directional. Sound approaches us, responds to us by returning our sounds as echoes. A space can be perceived, understood and ordered through an echo, and is usually experienced unconsciously. The sounds within an environment affect us, with every building and space having its own characteristics, creating a sense of connection and solidarity. (Pallasmaa 2005, 50). Silence can be the most powerful experience, where the experience of tranquillity heightens our psychological awareness, giving depth to an experience.

Image 2. Sound

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“A particular smell makes us unknowingly reenter a space completely forgotten by the retinal memory; the nostrils awaken a forgotten image, and we are enticed to enter a vivid daydream. The nose makes the eyes remember.” (Pallasmaa 2005, 54). Every place has its own scent, and every dwelling has its individual smell of home. A scent, can trigger memories of particular places in great detail, allowing the mind to travel to a time from the past in an instant. Our olfactory imagery has the most persistent memory of space, evoking memories and influencing perceptions, layering our spatial experience in certain spaces with emotions.

Image 3. Smell

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“The most archaic origin of architectural space is in the cavity of the mouth” (Pallasmaa 2005, 59). There is a subtle conveyance between the tactile and taste experiences.Vision too, can be transferred to taste, as certain colours and textures can arouse oral sensations. An architectural experience is one that can be spatially opened up and swallowed, bringing the world into a depth of intimacy with the body.

Image 4. Taste

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“Our touch senses the weight, resistance, and gestalt of materials...” (Pallasmaa 2009, 50). Touch seeks the truth and reality of things – to touch is to experience and feel, connecting us with time and tradition. The eye senses the distance, yet it only observes. Touch allows us to measure temperature, time, gravity and intimacy of spaces. Natural materials like wood, stone and brick weave a layer of meaning into our environment as it expresses history, tradition and origin whereas artificial materials are without history or origin, unable to bring honest meaning into a space. “The experience of wood for instance connects with our experiences of climbing trees, sawing, chopping, nailing, and carving. We are familiar with its strength that we see reflected in its size and with its growth patterns reflected in the grain. The materials and forms will of course differ much from place to place, but a knowledge of how the places in which we dwell came into being provides a sense of home even when we were not engaged in the construction” (Dovey 1985).

Image 5. Touch

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“The experience of space is multi-sensory, architecture strengthens our senses. Space and scale are measured through the eye, ear, noise, skin, tongue, skeleton and muscles.” (Pallasmaa 2005, 28). “The body knows and remembers. Architectural meaning derives from archaic responses and reactions remembered by the body and the senses” (Pallasmaa 2005, 60). Our sensations of comfort, protection and home are rooted in the primal experiences of the generations before, engraving within us the bodily memory of various functions and inhabitation.An environment that establishes a connection with the implied wisdom of the body provides and creates a sensory perception of touch and movement, uniting our senses and the surroundings.

Image 6. Scale

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Jan Smut proclaimed that “the whole is more than the sum of its parts.” A sensorial environment cannot be abstracted into individual elements, and it is vital that a holistic view of the experience of the space is undertaken, as they all contribute to the experience. This would derive a threshold experience of change that allows for healing and learning, and also bringing meaning to the spaces and its occupants.

“The softer and more alive they are the more renewed, relaxed and healed we tend to be. Soft lively air rather than rough funnelled draughts, absorbed sounds rather than hard echo, moderated enlivened light dancing perhaps off water or through leaves from different windows with their ever changing interplay of subtly different light and shadow. Vegetation brings softness, life and seasonal rhythm.” (Day 1990, 52)

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Figure 8. Site map

This site was chosen due to its adjacency to services, public transport, both domestic and international airports, Multicultural Services in Cannington, and primary and secondary schools.

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1:1000 Image 7. Wattle Grove Baptist Church Figure 9. Site plan

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The site is located along Welshpool East Road, southeast of Perth city. The first existing fabric of the building only consisted of the main hall, which was constructed during the second World War, but was only completed after the war due to the lack of materials. The building it has been renovated three times during its life span, with the most recent renovation finished in the early 1980s.The church is currently not listed under the heritage council of Western Australia, and there have been recent plans of renovations on the existing site.

Image 8. Exterior of Wattle Grove Baptist Church

This site was chosen due to the nature of the existing building and site, where the adjacent site would allow for an extension of the existing building to fit the design pragmatics of the integration centre. The original existing fabric from the 1940s was kept intact for the new design, where it will be used strategically as the critical point of entry of the integration centre.

Image 9. Interior: Main hall

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Figure 10. Existing building plan

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To formulate a cohesive design language that provides gradual integration into the Australian society for the Karen refugees, whilst allowing the continuity of the cultural identity, which includes their strong community practices and cultural housing, enhancing their integration into the new environment. A culturally responsive space that would also provide a sense of identity and place, providing positive spatial experiences to enable the refugees to connect to the new environment and hence foster and nurture the well-being and self-identity of occupants. A few long-term strategies of integration have been identified: to support the Karen community in Western Australia in the process of integration to achieve their full potential; to contribute to the Western Australian society, socially, economically and culturally; and, to encourage the Karen people to access resources, establishing strong networks and communities. The following page is an occupation cycle chart which depicts the integrative activities of the centre over a ten-week period.

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Week 1 Introduction phase Week 2 Inductive learning phase Week 3

Week 4 Integrative phase Week 5

Week 6 Week 7 Week 8

Week 9 Completion phase Week 10

 

Site tour of the integration centre Welcome briefing to integration centre, and settling into accommodation whether family or singles Introduction to integration centre staff, volunteers and other occupants Go for medical check-ups and finalise immigration and proper identification papers Demonstration workshops on basic Getting Preventive Kindergarten household services: Security, electric, acquainted education and primary water, gas, ventilation, lighting, heating/ with other workshops on school aged cooling, cleaning and waste management families, public children to go Visit to neighbouring shopping centre host transportation, to nearby tenancy, leases, schools Demonstration workshops on domestic families, volunteers, motor vehicles household services: Kitchen, bathroom, staff and hire Middle school laundry, bedroom purchases, or high school Introduction to public transport system Counsellin finance banks, aged children Perth city tour by taking public g sessions taxes, jobs to go for transport, to the city, banks, cultural can be intensive centre held if English classes, Jobs and responsibilities for adults/ Preventive needed and Australian young adults to start working small jobs education culture classes and tasks around the centre workshop on government Young adults services, social Perth city tour to places like train station, cultural and adults to centre, state library, and government buildings services enrol into (Centrelink, TAFE/ high Multicultural schools with services, vocational Medicare, learning Household classes assistance package) Start to look for permanent accommodation – single Preventive male or female (shared house or host family) and education family (single storey/townhouse in suitable suburb) workshop on Start application for jobs, education courses or training law courses enforcement – police, healthcare, fire service, insurance Preparation for move into permanent accommodation – visit to allocated suburb, public services nearby, public transport, schools

Start selfsustaining activities around the centre – gardening, planting fruits/ vegetables, cooking, rearing livestock Language classes to learn basic English speaking, writing and reading Australian cultural classes Craft workshops – sewing, jewellery design classes Mechanical workshops – cars, bikes Electronics/ computer workshops

Transfer to permanent housing Figure 11. Occupation period

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From the occupation cycle, these spatial functions were derived to meet the cultural and pragmatic needs of the centre for the Karen refugees. To fully realise what each space requires, the experiential and physical qualities of the main spaces in the centre are synthesised and illustrated below.

Administrative Entering Eating Cooking

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Foyer Meditation garden Dining hall Outdoor courtyard – “fireplace” Communal kitchen Outdoor cooking area Halal kitchen

Private kitchens in family quarters

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Private Administrative office Meeting room

Family quarters Single male and female quarters Staff/host family quarters Outdoor courtyard – “fireplace” Playground Communal laundry area Vegetable gardens Demonstration areas – kitchen and laundry Workshops – computers, crafts, mechanical

Living area in family quarters Living area in singles quarters Learning centre

Figure 12. Spatial functions

Other miscellaneous spatial functions include the car park, toilets and waste disposal area. There will be an estimated three or four staff members on site permanently, while the rest are part-time staff or volunteers. A host family will be present on site to meet caretaking needs of the occupants of centre. As according to sources, there is at least one new family arriving to Perth every month, along with approximately 3-8 single people, male or female. The occupation period of 10 weeks will allow for a turnover of a new family every 4 weeks, which totals up to approximately 40 people after the first three months.

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Figure 13. Spatial diagram

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The design approach takes the combination of the theories of spatial experience and the research findings from the previous semester to create a multi-sensory and positive experience within the integration centre, focusing on the entry, dining, cooking, living/communal and sleeping spaces. A Pattern Language’ by Christopher Alexander will also be used to derive certain design approaches. The emphasis will be held on the sensorial experiences in these chosen spaces, aiming to provide an enriched experience that will be able to positively influence the occupants of the space. In the following pages, each of these spatial functions will be defined, driven and influenced by the theoretical precedents and the cultural needs of the Karen refugees.

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physical requirements

Foyer; waiting area; meditation garden “The entrance must be placed in such a way that people who approach the building see the entrance or some hint of where the entrance is, as soon as they see the building itself ” (Alexander 1977, 541). The position of the main entrance controls the layout of the building; which therefore controls movement to and from the building as well. The critical point of entry will include the reception foyer, which directs new refugees and visitors towards the other communal spaces and the accommodation quarters, There are no spaces required for baggage storage as new refugees do not arrive with much personal belongings. “How can the people who are waiting, spend their time wholeheartedly – live the hours or minutes while they wait, as fully as the other hours of their day – and yet still be on hand, whenever the event or the person they are waiting for is ready?” (Alexander Figure 14. Entry

1977, 709).

As people are waiting in the foyer, spaces to sit, think, play, meditate, wait and walk around are required to give a sense of welcome. The point of arrival is to address the mixed emotions of apprehension and expectation of their future, hence the need for a immediate connection to the space. The meditation garden acts as a tranquil retreat before they enter into the foyer, with the foyer becoming the buffer zone or threshold between the serenity of the garden and the bustling of the dining hall.

experiential and sensorial requirements

Different intensities of natural light; welcoming odours and sounds; familiar textures and materiality; warmth; hospitality; fitting scale and volume “The sequence of preparatory experiences we pass through to approach, enter and use a building do more than affect our experience of it.They change our inner state which can both enhance our receptiveness to health giving qualities in our surroundings, and trigger transformative processes in our inmost being” (Day 1990, 23).

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Dining hall; outdoor courtyard “A feast is of such a nature that it draws people to itself, and makes them leave everything else in order to participate in its joys. To feast together is to bear witness to the joy one has at being with his friends.The mere act of eating together, quite apart from a banquet or some other festival occasion, is by its very nature a sign of friendship and of “communion” (Merton 1956, 126). The eating spaces act as the central hub, the “fireplace”, as the Karen people value the spaces of eating as it upholds their strong community ties with one another. Eating, talking, performances, singing and dancing all interplay during mealtimes, transforming the space into a lively atmosphere. Pallasmaa (2005, 58) states that “the space of warmth around a fireplace is the space of ultimate intimacy and comfort.”

experiential and sensorial requirements

Pools of light and darkness; familiar aromas of food and spices and sounds of familiar language and music; familiar organic textures; warmth from the fire; closeness to the ground

Figure 15. The fire

“When there is a soft light, hung low over the table, with dark walls around so that this one point of light lights up people’s faces and is a focal point for the whole group, then a meal can become a special thing indeed, a bond, a communion” (Alexander 1977, 844). The sunlight from two different windows within a room can create an interplay of lights, hues and shadows, therefore it produces a quality of liveliness that affects the physiological and aesthetic qualities of a space.The quality of light within a space hence, is important in creating a healing environment. Naturally lit spaces are more inviting or welcoming because certain stimuli are stimulated by sunlight. Light from a log fire has a similar spectrum to sunlight, where its radiant heat can be particularly warming to the body as well as to the soul, enjoyable and aiding with one’s well-being (Day 1990, 16).

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Kitchen; Halal2 kitchen; outdoor cooking area; space for demonstration workshops An outdoor cooking area that allows for Karen culture cooking techniques and a ‘western’ kitchen facility will be provided, where it can also be used as a demonstration space on how to use a ‘western’ kitchen. A barbecue area too, allows for an integration of the Australian culture into the context. The cooking area in a traditional Karen home is considered at the central hub where most everyday activities takes place, hence, this encourages communal experience and positive learning experience. A separate kitchen for halal food preparation will also be provided as separate food preparation surfaces, utensils, crockery and serving dishes are required for Muslim Karens. The vegetable garden right outside the kitchen will allow the centre to be self-sustaining, as well as a waste disposal system that allows for composting and promote sustainability.

experiential and sensorial requirements

Natural lighting; familiar smells of food and spices and sounds of familiar language and cooking; familiar organic textures; warmth from the fire; social experiences Figure 16. Kitchen

“Place the most important part of the working surface in the sunlight...” (Alexander 1977, 856). The idea of communal cooking is the hearth of cooking, where preparing food at the fire, and as a group, is rooted deep within ourselves. This traditional sense of a everyday activity incorporates the whole community, where the camaraderie, conversations and the pleasure found in teamwork brings everyone together, building and encouraging positive experiences and relationships.

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Halal: Food that is permitted under Islamic guidelines as found in the Qu’ran. Halal also extends to the humane slaughter of animals.

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Sleeping quarters for the family; single males and females; host family “In many traditional and primitive cultures, sleep is a communal activity without the sexual overtones it has in the West today. We believe that it may be a vital social function, which plays a role as a fundamental and as necessary to people as communal eating” (Alexander 1977, 861). Communal sleeping is one of the traditions of the Karen culture, where a whole family would sleep together in one room, or they would sleep in separate rooms according to gender as the children grow older. An adaptable screen has been designed to allow communality or privacy between the master bedroom and children’s bedrooms, allowing the Karen family to gradually adjust to their needs as time passes. Living spaces and the kitchen are usually used as resting areas as well, thus a multifunctional space that can be used for both sleeping and living is incorporated in both the family and singles quarters. The refugees do not arrive with much belongings due to the nature of their departure from Thailand, thus modest storage spaces are provided.

experiential and sensorial requirements

Pools of light and darkness; familiarity of materials; closeness to the ground; warmth and comfort; possibility of sight and sound of one another The idea of sleeping close to the ground is primal, archetypal of what humanity has grown up in. Being together in the same room at night not only creates a smaller circle of protection but it also enfolds a social bond within the family.The experience of communal sleeping is an unique one, and in a small space, the rooms are often multipurpose throughout the day. Having different intensities of natural light, and allowing light to shine through foliage into the sleeping areas creates a gentle, rhythmical light (Day 1980, 48). The integration of natural materials modulates a sensory experience that allows occupants to perceive the space not just through sight, but also through sound, touch, smell and scale. “We appreciate a place not just by its impact on our visual cortex but by the way in which it sounds, it feels and smells. Some of these sensual experiences elide, for instance our full understanding of wood is often achieved by a perception of smell, its texture (which can be appreciated by both looking and feeling) and by the way in which it modulates the acoustics of the space” (Architectural Review 1991).

Figure 17. Family quarters

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Outdoor courtyard – “fireplace”; living area in family quarters and singles quarters; playground; vegetable gardens; laundry “Provide a fire, as the hub of one activity” (Alexander 1977, 447). A common space for everyone.The living and communal areas needs to be accessible to everyone, located in the centre of gravity of all the spaces at the site, and arranged in such a way that the paths entering and exiting the site lie tangent to those areas. The connections between the buildings and its surroundings are linked through series of pathways, allowing occupants to feel rooted to the space.The outdoor living areas integrates the “fireplace”, the hearth of a home, as it “provides a natural focus for talk and dreams and thought” (Alexander 1977, 842). The communal areas like the vegetable gardens and the laundry allows for positive self-sustaining activities, where occupants are encouraged to take part and immerse themselves in familiar activities. experiential and sensorial requirements Figure 17. Outdoor courtyard

Natural lighting and different light intensities; welcoming smells of food and spices and sounds of familiar language and music; familiar natural materials; warmth from the fire; closeness to the ground and nature “No social group - whether a family, a work group, or a school group - can survive without constant informal contact among its members” (Alexander 1977, 618). Food and fire, these are the most basic elements to communal areas. The living spaces are the spaces that create atmospheres of warmth and welcome. They incorporate a “hearth”, acting as the centre where everyone gravitates towards. The kitchen, the dining hall are included in this, as eating is one of the most communal of activities, not only in the Karen culture but in most cultures. Sitting spaces are included for activities like eating and talking, and spaces that lead to the outdoors allow for different settings and moments. Similar to eating spaces, this knits together all the social spaces, allowing for communal experiences that activates the spaces in the centre and hence, builds a community that encourages growth and integration.

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Through a series of interrogations of the spatiality and how one might feel and experience in the space, the following design outcomes have been derived. The focus areas include the foyer, the dining area and the outdoor courtyard and family quarters.

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The design outcome of this project reveals that through a contextual understanding of the people and place, and through incorporating the senses, a rich sensorial experience can be created which allows for an enhanced awareness through spaces. The exploration of “ways of knowing” with the emphasis on the nonvisual senses, and the attempt to understand how people feel about space and place, taking into account the different modes of experience (sensorimotor, tactile, visual and conceptual) can be interpreted by spaces as images of complex and often ambivalent feelings. An experience of a place usually holds significant meanings. Feelings are infused within places, which in turn evoke feelings that become symbols in the creation personal identity. Spaces that have shared meaning foster a mutual sense of community and belonging (Rowles 1980, 60). The research from the first volume on forced displacement dictated the nature and direction of the research project, which allowed me to be submerged within groups of people whom have been forcibly displaced due to persecution, wars, poverty, etc.The focus on Karen refugees has brought me to see the plight of these disfranchised groups of people, and to adapt into a new environment while maintaining their sense of belonging and cultural identity, a need for these cultural groups to properly and positively integrate into the society was identified and implemented. A proposal that creates a design language to allow for positive integration in a transitional space, for newly arrived refugees to Australia was the aim of this research. To successfully allow for the re-establishment of a sense of identity and belonging, this integrative community centre model can be implemented and utilised in other host countries that take in refugees, to encourage and nurture the process of integration into a new society for these disfranchised groups of people. Further considerations, however, need to be taken, as the patterning of sense experience varies from culture to culture in relation to meaning and perception of spaces. Hence tracing these influences of different socio-cultural, personal and emotional expressions are all design concerns which needs to be understood and applied through a considerate design language. Rapoport (1980, 285) states that, “socio-cultural factors in the broadest sense are thus more important than climate, technology, materials and economists in influencing built form.” Long-term integration strategies can benefit not only the refugee groups, but also the local community, economically and culturally. Allowing the application of this model into a bigger framework, the community at large, would develop cultural acceptance and more tightknit communities. Through the considerate acknowledgement of their cultural and spatial needs, this integrative community centre not only provides an rich sensorial experience of integration into the Australian society, but also allows the re-establishment of cultural identity and self-identity for the Karen refugees – adapting, learning, growing positively into their new environment.

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“Architecture is not all about the design of the building and nothing else, it is also about the cultural setting and the ambience, the whole affair.� Michael Graves

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Figure 1. Spatial analysis of the Karen home (Diagram by author). Figure 2. Spatial Functions and Design Responses (Diagram by author). Figure 3. Original spatial plan (Diagram by author). Figure 4. Adaptation options (Diagram by author). Figure 5. In-between (Diagram by author). Figure 6 and 7. Journey from home (Diagram by author). Figure 8. Site map (Diagram by author). Figure 9. Site plan (Diagram by author). Figure 10. Existing building plan (Diagram by author). Figure 11. Occupation period (Diagram by author). Figure 12. Spatial functions (Diagram by author). Figure 13. Spatial diagram (Diagram by author). Figure 14. Entry (Diagram by author). Figure 15. The fire (Diagram by author). Figure 16. Kitchen (Diagram by author). Figure 17. Family quarters (Diagram by author). Figure 17. Outdoor courtyard (Diagram by author). Figure 18 - 25. Spatial functions (Diagram by author).

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Image 1. Sight. n.d. http://www.lynnelamb.com/assets/images/4_20050224_164618.jpg (accessed September 29, 2012). Image 2. Sound. n.d. ttp://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m9lka1ypmy1qas1xuo1_500.jpg (accessed September 11, 2012). Image 3. Smell. n.d. http://www.colourbox.com/preview/2485731-525161-close-up-of-aromatic-cinnamon-sticks- for-christmas.jpg (accessed September 29, 2012). Image 4. Taste. n.d. http://www.ltrr.arizona.edu/lorim/pine-fr.gif (accessed September 29, 2012). Image 5. Touch. n.d. http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m9kuqbDa0d1rremc7o1_500.jpg (accessed September 11, 2012). Image 6. Scale. n.d. http://www.jennyleesilver.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/trees-north-shore-fog.jpg (accessed September 11, 2012). Image 7. Wattle Grove Baptist Church (Image by author). Image 8. Exterior of Wattle Grove Baptist Church (Image by author). Image 9. Interior: Main hall (Image by author). Image 10. Interior: Dining hall (Image by author).

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Alexander, C., S. Ishikawa, and M. Silverstein. 1977. A Pattern Language. New York: Oxford University Press. Anderton, F. 1991. Architecture for all senses. Architectural Review 189 (1136): 27. Buttimer, A and D. Seamon. 1980. The Human Experience of Space and Place. London: Taylor and Francis. Day, C. 1990. Places of the Soul: Architecture and Environmental Design as a Healing Art. Oxford: Architectural Press. Dernee, M. n.d. Phenomenology of the architecture of sense. http://www.dernee.hostnamez.net/ (accessed September 2, 2012). Dovey, K. 1985. Homes and Homelessness. in Home environments, ed. Altman, I. and Werner, C. New York: Plenum Press. Eiselen, M. L. 2011. Heal: a shelter for the homeless in Tshwane : investigating a suitable living environment for the healing and rehabilitation of people in crisis. Masters diss. University of Pretoria. http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-12092010153009/ (accessed September 2, 2012). Geel, A. 2005. A Community link project for Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital. Masters diss. University of Pretoria http://upetd. up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-11302005-103859/ (accessed September 29, 2012). Godkin, M. A. 1980. Identity and Place: Clinical Application Based on the Notion of Rootedness and Up-rootedness. In The Human Experience of Space and Place, eds. Buttimer, A. & Seaman, D. 73-85. London: Billing and Sons Limited. Holl, S. 1989. Anchoring. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. Holl, S. 1996. Intertwining. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. Holl S., J. Pallasmaa and A. Perez Gomez. 1994. Questions of Perception. Tokyo: a + u Publishing. Mallett, S. 2004. Understanding home: A Critical Review of the Literature. The Sociological Review, 52(1): 62-88. Malnar, J. M. and F.Vodvarka. 2004. Sensory Design. USA: University of Minnesota Press. Merton, T. 1956. The Living Bread. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Pallasmaa, J. 1985. The Geometry of Feeling, in Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture, ed. Nesbitt K., 448-452. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. Pallasmaa, J. 2005. The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses. United Kingdom: John Wiley and Sons Ltd. Pallasmaa, J. 2009. The Thinking Hand (Architectural Design Primer). NY: John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

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Phan, Z and D. Lewis. 2009. Little Daughter: A memoir of survival in Burma and the West. UK: Simon & Schuster UK Ltd. Rapoport, A. 1980. Vernacular Architecture and the Cultural Determinants of Form. In Buildings and Society, ed. King, A. D. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Rapoport, A. 2000. Theory, Culture and Housing. Housing, Theory and Society: 17(4): 145-165. Rowles, G. D. 1980. Growing old ‘inside’: aging and attachment to place in an Appalachian community. In Transitions of Aging, eds. Datan, N and N. Lohmann, 152-170. New York: Academic Press. SBS. 2012. Census Explorer: Burmese. http://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/burmese/censusexplorer (accessed 4 August, 2012). Tuan,Y. F. 1997. Space and place: The perspectives of experience. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Tucker, A. 1994. In Search of Home. Journal of Applied Philosophy, 11 (2): 181–187. Valsiner, J. 2012. The Oxford Handbook of Culture and Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press. Wiles, D. 2003. A Short History of Western Performance Space. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. Yorgancioglu, D. 2004. Steven Holl: A translation of phenomenological philosophy into the realm of architecture. Masters diss. Middle East Technical University. http://etd.lib.metu.edu.tr/upload/12605414/index.pdf (accessed September 2, 2012). Your Home Technical Manual. 2010. http://www.yourhome.gov.au/technical/index.html (accessed 1 August, 2012). Zeballos, C. 2010. Tadao Ando: Church of Light. http://architecturalmoleskine.blogspot.com.au/2010/10/tadao-ando-church-oflight.html (accessed 12 September, 2012). Zumthor, P. 1998. Peter Zumthor Works: Buildings and Projects, 1979-1997. Switzerland: Lars Muller Publishers.

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Halal Malaysia: Official Portal for the Halal Hub. 2011. Halal Definition. http://www.halal.gov.my/v3/index.php/en/about-halalcertification/halal-definition (accessed October 2, 2012). Norberg-Schulz, C. 1980. Genius Loci Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture. USA: Rizzoli International Publications. Rapport, N. and Dawson, A. 1998. Migrants of Identity: Perceptions of Home in a World of Movement. Oxford: Berg

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IA Research Thesis 421/422