Yangon Heritage Trust to Survey How Residents Benefit From Conservation

By Kyaw Phyo Tha 7 August 2014

RANGOON — The Yangon Heritage Trust announced on Wednesday that it will conduct a survey among residents of colonial-era buildings in downtown Rangoon to determine how communities could benefit from conservation of the buildings.

The organization’s program manager Kyan Dyne Aung announced during a press conference that in three selected areas residents would be interviewed about their use of the heritage for residential, business and religious purposes, and about their views on the future of the buildings.

“After we learn about those facts, we would be able to take them into
our consideration when we implement heritage conservation,” he said, adding that the study is being funded by the European Union and would start in September or October.

The trust’s founder, historian Thant Myint-U, said the study would help determine how residents view new urban development and heritage conservation, and how such plans could benefit local communities.

The survey will focus on part of Bothathaung Township’s Bogalay Zay Street (between Merchant and Maha Bandoola streets), Pabedan Township’s 26nd Street and part of Latha Township’s Latha Street (between Merchant and Maha Bandoola streets).

The areas were selected as urban heritage there has the “ideal character” because it performs a mix of functions and represents much of downtown Rangoon, said the trust’s director Moe Moe Lwin. “So we selected these areas for our project zone because they fit with these criteria.”

She said the survey areas also represent different cultures, with 26nd Street being a predominantly Indian-origin community, while Latha Road is considered part of Rangoon’s ‘China Town’. Bogalay Zay Street has a number of historic buildings that have retained their original architectural features and social functions, such as the Young Women’s Christian Association building.

Lower Pansodan Road, an area famous for its concentration
of large British colonial-era administrative buildings and banks, is excluded from the survey, she added, as most historic buildings there house government offices.

The Yangon Heritage Trust was founded in 2012 following the introduction of political reforms in Burma, and is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of Rangoon’s rich architectural heritage. It advocates heritage protection and provides urban planning advice to the government.

Rangoon has one of the largest colonial-era city centers in the whole of Asia but many of the buildings are dilapidated after decades of neglect and mismanagement under the former military regime. A real estate boom has sparked a building frenzy across the city of five million in recent years, and in downtown old buildings are regularly being knocked down to make way for real estate development.