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A Vacant Chinatown East

A Vacant Chinatown East places a focus on the important cultural heritage of Chinatown’s vernacular architecture, namely its urban street furniture and street life.


The plastic baskets in East Chinatown are in use every day, yet their value is rarely recognized. Practical, cheap, and malleable, they are the building blocks of Chinatown’s urban interior. These pieces of urban furniture not only contribute to Chinatown’s streetscape but also street life.

Here, however, these forgotten pieces of heritage have been taken out of their uses, preserved in porcelain, and displayed as a museum exhibit. To preserve something—to make something heritage—artifacts must be removed from their original context. While heritage and preservation elevates their value, they also morph the basket’s original appeal. Even though the preserved basket replicas are clean and precious, they have also become vacant and fragile. In becoming an object of heritage, the essence of the basket has been lost: they have become vacant vessels incapable of fulfilling their original purpose.

We invite you to sit on the step stools to experience the vacancy that heritage practices produce. Sitting here, we invite you to occupy a once bustling streetscape and street life, now turned to porcelain and put on display as ‘heritage’. While the basket replicas are meant to be touched, they can no longer be used. As heritage objects, they have become fragile: they must be handled with care, they cannot be moved, they cannot be picked up off the ground, they can only be viewed—they have become useless.

Project Team

Robert Tin (he/him) is constantly figuring out who he is. Born on a Christmas Eve, Robert explores complicated issues and logically devises solutions in his work. He enjoys the poetry of expressing philosophical ideas in spatial design. He also enjoys munching on wings while watching professional wrestling on TV.

Conan Chan (he/him) recently graduated from Ryerson University School of Interior Design. As an aspiring space designer, he strives to push the boundaries for new perspectives in meaningful space design. Conan was a co-recipient of the 2020 Yabu Pushelburg Award for Innovation in Interior Design, and his latest project, Refold, was presented at the 2021 DesignTO Festival.
IG: @conandotdesign
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/conan-chan-/

Min Xie (she/her) is a graduate of the Ryerson School of Interior Design. While inspiration can come to her from anywhere, she is strongly interested in hospitality and residential design. Also, she is colourist, she loves use colour to highlight the space and I do love hand sketching to show the render effect.
IG: @xiexiexiemin
Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/min-xie-19224218a/

Megan Barrientos (she/her) has found her passion to design memorable projects for others and believes that the best ideas are rooted in one’s culture and values. A graduate of the Ryerson School of Interior Design, and recipient of many Design Awards throughout her education, Megan works hard to play hard and enjoys her time with the ones she loves most.

Linda Zhang (she/her) is an artist, a licensed architect, certified advanced operations drone pilot and educator. She is a principal at Studio Pararaum and an assistant professor at Ryerson SID. Her research areas include memory, cultural heritage, and identity as they are indexically embodied through emergent technologies, matter, and material processes.
IG: @lindayzhang @pararaum
www.lindazhang.de www.pararaum.com


东部唐人街的塑料篮每天都在使用,但其价值却鲜为人知。它们实用、便宜且具有延展性,是唐人街城市内部装饰的基石。这些城市 设施不仅点缀了唐人街的街景,而且组成了街头生活的一部分。

但是,在这里,这些被遗忘的遗产已被淘汰。它们以瓷器的方式被保存,并作为博物馆的展品展出。为了保存某些东西(使某些东西 成为遗产),必须将文物从其原始环境中移除。传承和保护在提升其价值的同时,也改变了塑料篮的原始魅力。即使保存的塑料篮复 制品干净而珍贵,但它们也变得空洞且脆弱。在成为遗产时,塑料篮的本质已经丢失了:它们变成了无法实现其原始目的的空容器。 我们邀请您坐在梯凳上,体会遗产实践所产生的空缺。坐在这里,我们邀请您停留在曾经繁华的街道景观和街头生活中。这些现在变 成了瓷器,作为‘遗产’展出。虽然塑料篮复制品本应被触摸,但它们的用途早已不在。作为文物,它们已经变得脆弱:它们必须小 心轻放,不能移动,不能从地上拿起来,只能被观察,它们变得毫无用处。

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