Relics of Rangoon

 
 

Walking 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.

A new book, Relics of Rangoon for the first time profiles through in-depth research and photography the inside and out of more than 200 of the city’s architectural gems.

The book will be the culmination of over two years of research with a team of more than eight researchers, over 8,000 photographs, hundreds of hours of interviews with custodians, trustees, government officials, custodians, architects and conservation experts, and documentation research in the Myanmar National Archives.

Relics of Rangoon has already received wide praise from historians and critics alike who hail the project not only for the plus 700 photographs within, but as a first time look into the history of some of the city’s most overlooked buildings.

To learn more about the book or to buy a copy online, visit the project’s website at www.relicsofrangoon.com.

Relics of Rangoon
West Wing of the Secretariat with the spires of St Mary’s Cathedral in the background.
Image Credit: Philip J. Heijmans
Relics of Rangoon
The dilapidated stands of the Kyaikkasan Racetrack Grounds.
Image Credit: Philip J. Heijmans
Relics of Rangoon
The Kyaikkasan Racetrack Grounds. Located in Tamwe, the racetrack was founded approximately 150 years ago and found prominence after it became home to the colonial era Rangoon Turf Club in 1926. The Racetrack is slated for demolition in favour of a commercial development.
Image Credit: Philip J. Heijmans
Relics of Rangoon
The Aung Shwebontha Dhamma Beikman Monastery. Constructed in 1908, this Monastery later converted into a library, is a fine example of classic revival architecture with ornate Corinthian columns bordered by decorative arches
Image Credit: Philip J. Heijmans
Relics of Rangoon
Opened in Rangoon in 1911 with 342 beds, the Victorian-style Yangon General Hospital is still operational today as one of the city’s largest hospitals. Expansion plans have been drawn up to extend and modernize the services of this busy medical metropolis.
Image Credit: Philip J. Heijmans
Relics of Rangoon
The built environment of Yangon, like most other major cities in the world, has become crowded as the old is torn down and the new is built up. Here a downtown residential building is reflected in the flooded land plot beside it.
Image Credit: Philip J. Heijmans
Relics of Rangoon
The iconic Yangon Central Railway Station in central Yangon boasts the tiered roof “pyatthat” in traditional Myanmar architectural style. It was completed in 1954 after the British, who built the first Central Railway Station destroyed it during WWII.
Image Credit: Philip J. Heijmans
Relics of Rangoon
A plant grows through the cracks of the second floor of the building that was once the Chartered Bank. The structure was completed in 1941 and has always been associated with banking and finance.
Image Credit: Philip J. Heijmans
Relics of Rangoon
A weather damaged back window at the Yangon headquarters of the infamous Home Affairs branch sprouts with foliage after years of neglect.
Image Credit: Philip J. Heijmans
Relics of Rangoon
Originally called “Scott Market” after the municipal commissioner when it opened in 1926, the still-bustling commercial centre was later renamed after Myanmar’s national hero Bogyoke Aung San.
Image Credit: Philip J. Heijmans
Relics of Rangoon
A spiral staircase inside one of the Grand Foyers of the Secretariat. The teak steps of the staircase are crusted thickly with bird droppings after around twenty years of abandonment inside the building.
Image Credit: Philip J. Heijmans
Relics of Rangoon
Bahan Township, where this residential abode is located, remains a nest of preserved residential teak buildings from the turn of the century through to independence. In typical style, the turreted roof is supported by sturdy teak underneath. Unfortunately, this building was torn down earlier this year.
Image Credit: Philip J. Heijmans
Relics of Rangoon
The changing skyline of Downtown Yangon can be seen sharply in this view from Sakura tower – one of the tallest in the area.
Image Credit: Philip J. Heijmans
Relics of Rangoon
A view of the Secretariat building at the end of Bogalay Zay Street – considered to be one of the most intact colonial era streets in Yangon. A holiday home of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda is obscured by foliage in the left of the photo.
Image Credit: Philip J. Heijmans
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