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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

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.

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Drawing by Dr. Chiu Chen-Yu

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.    

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Architectural features: 

  • 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. ​

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  • 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. 

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  • 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).

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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!!

 

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

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MHD Walid 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

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Chang Li-Yu
​張 立 又

Born in Changhua, Taiwan, graduated from Shishi University Fashion Institute. Join the center team in November 2020, responsible for website planning and social marketing.


 

Marketing

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Chen Yu-An
​陳 昱 安

Born in Taichung, Taiwan, graduated from Shishi University Fashion Institute. Join the center team in November 2020, responsible for various graphic design and website planning.

Project Supervisor

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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

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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

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Chen Jou-Yi
​陳 柔 伊

Jou-Yi CHEN was born in Taiwan (R.O.C.), has specializes in Chinese culture and aesthetics of ancient Chinese civilization. Her international involvement reflects on attending the exhibition <Les Hivernales> held in Paris, participating the conferences, and traveling around 30 countries. Furthermore, she has three art related regions teaching licenses for high school level. She is studying Ph.D of fine art in Hacettepe University in Turkey at the moment.

Artistic Director

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Yeh Chun-Cheng
​葉 俊 呈

Şamil was born in Tainan, Taiwan (R.O.C.), he got bachelor degree in Turkish Language and Culture, master degree in Ethnology from National ChengChi University. He is the Ph.D candidate of Turkish Language and Literature in Hacettepe University in Turkey at the moment. While learning music he got the chance to broaden his horizon in Central Asia and Middle East, owing to the fact that he’s always long for the Silk Road. Through his abundant knowledge in Turkish language, Şamil can go deep among the Turkic music world. Furthermore, he could be able to do the research and also compare the cultural difference between Taiwan and Turkey. Şamil and Jou-Yi founded Yinyue Hane art performance group in 2020,  and are invited to perform traditional Chinese bamboo flute in the National Library of Turkey, Taiwan-Reyhanli centre for world citizens in October.

Media Executive Manager

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Chang Wen-Chia
​張 紋 嘉

From Tainan, Taiwan. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Turkish Language and Culture, NCCU, Taiwan. She achieved her Master of Arts in Teaching Turkish as Foreign Language at Gazi University, Turkey. She is a Ph.D candidate in Teaching Turkish as Foreign language at Gazi University. Wen-Chia is also a freelance translator for Mandarin and Turkish, she is also leading the translation working group in Taiwan-Reyhanli centre for world citizens.

Administration Manager

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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!

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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!