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BACKGROUND

Over 5.6 million people have fled Syria since the outbreak of war in 2011, seeking safety in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and beyond (UNHCR, 2018). Turkey alone has accommodated a staggering number of more than 3.6 million Syrians over this period of time. At least 90% of these people are living outside of refugee camps in urban or peri-urban areas, of which more than two-thirds are women and children. An estimated 40% (about 380,000) of Syrian children currently have no access to education and basic health care services.

 

LOCATION

Reyhanlı is a small city bordering with Syria in the southeastern Turkish province of Hatay. As the main gateway from Turkey to Aleppo in Syria, the town has become the main entry point for Syrian asylum seekers during the escalating conflicts. Consequently, in the last 8 years, the population of Reyhanlı has nearly doubled, progressively absorbing hundreds of thousands of Syrians who do not envisage a restoration of peace in their homeland in the short term.

Although featuring a quiet urban environment, Reyhanlı is not entirely free from the risk of war aggression. In May 2013, Reyhanlı experienced two bombing attacks in the same day, killing 52 people and wounding 146 people. Since 2011, it has also been a frequent target of rocket attacks that had caused further casualties, with the most recent ones being in September 2019.In addition to terrorist attacks, Reyhanlı has experienced social problems due to the sudden surge in population. These problems pertain to poverty, unemployment, shortage of water and electricity, absence of infrastructure, and insufficient essential public facilities for housing, health, education and recreation. These problems are the sources of increasing tensions between Syrians and Turkish locals in Reyhanlı.

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THE CENTRE

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Drawing by Dr. Chiu Chen-Yu

With the generous donation from Taiwan and collaborations with the Municipality of Reyhanlı, the Taiwan–Reyhanlı Centre for World Citizens (The Taiwan Centre), as the first of this kind, was built for improving the socio-cultural integration and inclusion between Syrians and Turkish locals.

 

The research of the Centre’s architectural program and site investigation started in 2016. The building construction began in April 2020 and was completed by September 2020. During the 4-year period, Cho worked as a volunteer and was the first private donor of the Centre. Cho took on the role as Founding Director of the Centre, working in close collaborations with the Turkish government, NGOs and the grassroots. He established an organizing team to select the beneficiaries in a fair and transparent manner, in line with the vision and program of the Centre.

 

     The Centre’s basic programs comprise:

 

  • Multi-purpose assembly halls;

  • Places for hosting NGOs and their activities;

  • Studios, galleries and shops for local artists;

  • Emergency/transitional shelters for people in need;

  • Design factory for incubating new industries and jobs;

  • Shops for distinctive local business sectors or exclusive local products; 

  • Governmental offices and facilities;

  • Communal spaces for children, women and disable people; and

  • Public facilities, including toilets, shower rooms, ablution rooms and masjids.    

​      Architectural features: 

  • Low cost, mass production, high efficiency and ensured quality:

By applying a large quantity of prefabricated building elements (pre-cast concrete blocks and folded metal sheets), this aims to lower down the cost and shorten the construction period. By precisely assembling these modular building elements onsite, this further ensures the quality of construction.

  • Walls for shelters, not for border; Walls for humanity, not for military:

The prefabricated concrete blocks were originally intended as the border walls between Syria and Turkey. For the Centre, they were repurposed as the main structural elements and partitions. ​

  • Living under Islamic vaults:

The folded metal sheets were applied for building a shell roof structure the represents the form of architectural heritage in the Middle- Asia. For example, the size of the shell is similar to the vaulted room in the Great Umayyad Mosque in Aleppo, and the shape can be referred to the ancient vault in Hattusa (1200 BC).

  • Transitional shelter embodied with collaborative construction:

The beneficiaries themselves will fill in the space of each unit under the shell roofs, with the supports and management of the organizing team. By building the indoor units together, it provides a chance to build a truly integrated and inclusive community.

  • A modern Islamic monument for humanity:

With the repetitive and analogous building elements and representational built forms and spaces, the Centre echoes the historical arasta, bazaar, caravanserai, madrasa, cami and bedesten. These buildings make the mobility in the olden days possible, which is in line with the Centre’s purpose of serving the ‘guests’ from Syria by the ‘hosts’ in Turkey.

  • A landscape with ruin for new civilization:

The centre is embodied with two linear parks separately aligning with the south and north façade. These two parks featured with large broken stones taken from the border and native plants to represent the ruin as the result of the war in which the Centre is the establishment of the new civilization.

 

  • Central courtyards and gardens for community:

There are three semi-enclosed courtyards and three gardens located in the middle of the Centre for varied events and activities of diverse groups and users. One courtyard in the near future will be converted into an outdoor concert hall; one will be the outdoor cinema; and the other one will be transformed into an art gallery.

  • Broken and collapsed concrete walls for recreation and education:

Previously broken and abandoned concrete blocks in the town are recycled and applied as the elements for children’s playground onsite – no barriers can stop the mobility of our children!!

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THE TEAM

團隊 THE TEAM

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Dr. Chiu Chen-Yu
​裘 振 宇 ​

Since 2016, Cho has worked voluntarily as the architect for consolidating the program and design of the Centre.Since 2020, he has acted voluntarily as the founding Director of the Centre for implementing its program and collaboration of NGOs, business sectors and grassroots.Cho has also worked as an architectural historian, exhibition curator/coordinator, competition organizer and full-time academician in the department of architecture at Bilkent University.

Founding Director &
Principal Architect

團隊 THE TEAM

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MUHAMMED Velid Abdi
瓦歷德 · 阿布迪

After completing his previously interrupted (due to the Syrian civil war) education in Turkey, Walid has voluntarily worked in the immigration office in Ankara during which he helped establish the “Building Bridges for Refugee Children” organization.

Walid has also worked as a project assistant in the Norwegian Refugee Council, and as trainer in UNFPA where he worked with a younger audience about sexual and reproductive health. He was an interviewer assistant in the International Labor Organization before he joined the Centre as a full-time manager in summer 2020.

Project Manager

團隊 THE TEAM

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Tuba Alvanoğlu
圖芭 · 阿凡歐魯

Tuba Alvanoğlu was born in Kars, Turkey and holds degrees in management, finance and media communications. She has worked as a journalist in multiple televised and print media (Milliyet, Hürriyet, Vatan,Hatay Radyo Televizyon, ...). She has also offered her services as a financial and political advisor. 

Project Supervisor

團隊 THE TEAM

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MH Diaa Aldin Alshami
迪亞.阿爾丁.阿夏米 

From Syria Homs city, graduated from Al-Baath University Psychological counseling Education. He came to Turkey in 2014, and worked not merely in international medical corps for 5 years as a psychosocial support worker and team leader but in some charities as a volunteer. Now, he joins the Taiwan Center as a photographer and photo editor.

Deputy Manager / Volunteer

團隊 THE TEAM

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Muhammad
Abdul Razzaq Muhammad

默罕默德

Holder of agricultural secondary school, studied English in Syrian university, worked for twenty years in the field of tourism and marketing, and now works in the Taiwanese center, assistant project manager and financial management, responsible for the trade and shipment of goods and products to the world.

Deputy Manager / Volunteer

團隊 THE TEAM

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Rawan Almajzoub
然灣

Due to the outbreak of war in Syria, Rawan came to Turkey in 2012 and completed her high school and university in Turkey. She graduated from Osmania Korkut Ata University in Business Administration with an excellent degree. She participated in a lot of volunteer helping refugees. She now works in the center as an assistant of project manager.

Secretary / Volunteer

團隊 THE TEAM

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Selin Şahin
賽琳 · 沙欣

Since January 2018, Selin has been working together with Dr. Chiu on the Centre. She has lead a team in conducting field studies in Reyhanlı within a participatory design framework and has worked on multiple design proposals for the Centre.

Architect &
Project Manager / Volunteer

團隊 THE TEAM

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Amansaryyev Vepa
阿曼薩耶夫·維帕

A student of M.Sc. Resource-Efficient and Sustainable Building at the Technical University of Munich. Having a background in the field of architecture, his focus lies in sustainable design and building primarily tackling social and ecological issues. Since spring 2021 he has been contributing to the development of The Taiwan-Reyhanli Centre for World Citizens and is the co-founder and the chairman of the association “World Citizens Now!”

World Citizens Now!

團隊 THE TEAM

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Hans Richter
漢斯·里希特

Comes from Frankfurt am Main, Germany and studies architecture at the Technical University of Munich. Study abroad at the UFRJ in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. With a focus on social and ecological issues, he has been involved in the The Taiwan - Reyhanli Centre since spring 2021 and is co-founder of the association "World Citizens Now!

World Citizens Now!

團隊 THE TEAM

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艾瑪德 阿赫默德 蘇阿Imad Ahmed Zoua

Imad Ahmed Zoua is from Syria, Idlib. He graduated from high school in Aleppo, then came to Turkey in 2012. His working experiences including being an assistant in the police department previously and working not only in an agricultural company in Antakya for three years but also in an agricultural nursery.  He joined Taiwan center in the summer of 2021, and now he is taking charge in agricultural work.

Landscape Architecture / Volunteer