Thesis Defence: Caleb Tsui

Monday, September 18, 2017 5:30 pm - 5:30 pm EDT (GMT -04:00)

Of the thesis entitled: Cultural Assimilation and Architecture: GuanXi and the Legacy of the Chinese Canadian Church


Known for priding itself as a multicultural nation, Canada's multicultural attitude does not come without a cost - as immigrants establish their roots and interact with the diverse ethnic groups within their communities, the process of cultural assimilation inevitably occurs. The process of assimilation can create not only social withdrawal and isolation, but also painful divisions between generations of a single family. This often results in psychological and emotional stress, leading to the questioning and finally the abandonment of one’s home culture and origin identity. While this process can be seen as universal, this thesis focuses on Hong Kong Canadians and the tradition of GuanXi. GuanXi is an intricate relational network that is cultivated informally through social exchanges which govern Chinese attitudes towards long-term social relationships. GuanXi is an important yet disappearing element within Hong Kong identity, and the ability to recognize these bonds and utilize this network is rapidly being lost through the process of cultural assimilation.

Using the suburban Chinese church, which remains one of the few typologies that bring different generations and cultures together, this thesis proposes employing the principles of GuanXi as a way to focus design intentions. The goal of the thesis is to design a building that helps to foster and preserve the generational ties eroded by assimilation, leaving behind a cultural legacy for future generations.

The examining committee is as follows:


Andrew Levitt, University of Waterloo

Committee Members:

Jane Hutton, University of Waterloo

Val Rynnimeri, University of Waterloo

External Reader:

Fred Thompson 

The committee has been approved as authorized by the Graduate Studies Committee.

The Defence Examination will take place:  

Monday September 18, 2017                 
5:30 PM               
ARC Loft Gallery

A copy of the thesis is available for perusal in ARC 2106A.