About the Project

This illustrative book of photographs seeks to definitively capture the historic buildings of Rangoon at a time they are in danger of disappearing forever.

Containing a vivid descriptions of each chosen landmark, Relics of Rangoon takes the reader through this iconic city as it once was and with the help of historians, architects, residents and government officials. This project offers an inside look of more than 150 of the city’s most important structures many would never see otherwise, while intertwining evocative photography with collages of other prominent residences, offices and government buildings against a journalistic background on the fate of the old city post 2011 where much of this history is threatened by demolition.

The final section of the book would also take a look at how the city is developing, using photographs that would encase how decision makers envision the future of Rangoon, while exploring the impact of new developments on the old capital of Burma.

Yangon’s Heritage Buildings: An Overview

Rangoon, Burma – DSC_2383Walking through the chaotic and vibrant streets of downtown Rangoon, now called Yangon, it is easy to be whisked away by the romance of a bygone era where the city was a heartbeat of the British Empire. Many of the once stately red colonial brick facades that once housed the administrative power of British Burma are now cloaked in shades of green mold and ferns after generations of neglect.

Nearby to downtown, the decadent roman column strewn halls of the remains of the now-abandoned British Pegu Club are wrapped in cobwebs. The ballroom that once hosted British royalty is now locked away from visitors. Inside the empty corridors of the clubhouse and hotel, the ghosts of a glamorous past are seen in a marble spiral staircase, teak floors and old telephone outlets.

Throughout the city, buildings built over the past two centuries including dispensaries, movie theaters and government halls that made up old Rangoon are still as important to the 5 million inhabitants of the city as ever before, serving as makeshift homes for families and businesses.

Though many have fallen into disrepair and are in danger of becoming dilapidated or condemned the faded facades of these structures have assumed romantic personalities and become a living museum of a history all but forgotten under the military rule that isolated the country for over twenty years. Indeed, each building has its own story to tell.So beloved are the historical buildings of Rangoon that they are now part of heritage walks that have recently become a popular service for tourists.

But, Rangoon is changing, and rapidly. With the dawn of unprecedented economic reform since the quasi-civilian took power in 2011, new high-end infrastructure projects are slowly beginning to overshadow the rich architectural history of the city and in some cases bury the buildings that once stood.Some buildings have already been leveled by developers and plans in the works to redevelop several others.

Today, the fate of some of 200 buildings deemed historical landmarks by the Yangon Heritage Trust remains unclear.