Hidden Heritage under threat: Yangon Warehouses

Crumbling colonial buildings are found all over Yangon, Myanmar. These structures are no longer in use and given their contextual history are left to weather and disappear.

Historic Warehouse (2017-10-29/2017-10-29)ICOMOS - International Council on Monuments and Sites


Many crumbling structures are located along 39th Street in downtown Yangon. Some of them have been already saved by local and international institutions, while others have been left to decay because of their conflicting past and administrative issues. This building is one of those examples.

According to the Economist: "In a region that has lost much of its architectural heritage, Yangon is the last city to have its colonial core intact. This is not the result of any deliberate policy; simply many years of stagnancy and neglect."

Historic Warehouse (2017-10-28)ICOMOS - International Council on Monuments and Sites


The situation became more dramatic after 2005, when the military junta, then ruling the country, moved the capital to Naypyidaw, some 320km (200 miles) north of Yangon. The abandoned colonial-era administrative buildings became even more dilapidated. But even today, walking through the streets of Yangon’s business district, it is not too hard to imagine the cosmopolitan atmosphere the whole city once excluded. 

The best marble from Italy, iron columns from Manchester, and designs appropriated from the most famous architectural styles across the globe. But now, the structures are crumbling, in ruins after decades of isolation.

Historic Warehouse (2017-10-21)ICOMOS - International Council on Monuments and Sites

Why are they under threat?

After years of isolation and lack of maintenance, these buildings are gradually collapsing beyond repair. Yangon has thousands of heritage buildings, according to an inventory conducted by the Yangon Heritage Trust (YHT), a non-governmental organisation founded to conserve historic buildings in the city. Given the amount and state of conservation of many of these structures, it might be very difficult to recuperate them. 

Credits: Story

This example have been compiled with the help of ICOMOS Myanmar, other references: https://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2014/01/yangons-heritage (last accessed: Nov 12, 2017)

Photographs and streetviews by Mario Santana Quintero

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