Ethnically differentiated architecture in a global world
ByMirjana Lozanovska
Pages 6

Cities have been substantially affected and many transformed by increasing cultural diversity resulting from waves of migration. The central role and dynamism of cultural diversity evident in retail and commercial streetscapes has dominated the debates on global and contemporary urban culture (Sandercock 2003). Architecture has been implicit as the background to these debates, but restaurants, residential, religious, institutional and community buildings, ethnic clubs and reception centres, constructed and adapted by migrant communities, provide evidence of the material change of the architecture of localities and neighbourhoods. A focus on architecture gives concrete form to the on-going negotiation between identity and locality, extending the argument related to urban culture across the various configurations of public, urban and suburban. Architecture is a term that may be associated linguistically with abstract concepts, but it is also a body of knowledge and part of a much larger debate that oscillates between binary frameworks of architecture and building. The boundary of architecture is persistently contested for example by the field of vernacular or everyday architecture. At the intersection of migration and identity, the focus of this book, architecture as a signifying field frames the ritualistic, associative and public role of buildings associated with ethnic communities and individuals. Migrant architecture as expression, form of settlement and inscription through use interacts with existing architectural conditions; and as such poses challenges, stimulates conflict and creates opportunities in places of departure and resettlement. Conversely, due to its relatively enduring nature, architecture appears to define the identity of places, highlighting that the production of migrant architectural and urban environments is critical in these debates (King 2004; Abbas 1997). Migrant buildings serve peoples’ everyday lives and also present alternative cultural references and readings that are seen as contesting the aesthetic traditions of the cities and countries in which they are constructed. Particularized flows and routes of migration, and the physical forms of migrant construction generate new trans-cultural formations of contemporaneous modernities.