Paul Callum visits historic Yangon, Myanmar
Bligh Tanner Director, Paul Callum visited the historic city of Yangon in Myanmar (formerly Rangoon, Burma) recently, where an enormous number of heritage buildings are in serious need of structural repair and conservation.
Paul was invited to Myanmar by highly experienced heritage architect from Conrad Gargett, David Gole, who is undertaking work with the Yangon Heritage Trust, to assist with forensic investigation into the structure of a number of heritage buildings that were proposed to undergo alteration.
The Conservation zone in Yangon includes over 1200 heritage buildings of the British Colonial era, generally built between 1870 and 1930, in a range of conditions.
“Many of the buildings were built extremely well and are still quite robust,” said Paul.
“The finishes and fixtures tend to be in poor condition and require replacement but generally the foundations and primary structural elements are in a good or retrievable condition.
“This is especially surprising given the very wet, tropical climate in Yangon, with moisture being the primary cause of deterioration in older buildings,” he said.
Paul noted The Secretariat (circa 1892) and a large 125-year-old private residence (pictured) as the standout site visits.
“The iconic Secretariat building is sited on a full city block of 16 acres and is in remarkable condition structurally, consisting primarily of a mix of wrought iron, cast iron columns, rolled steel, arched brick floors with concrete finishes and then timber and steel roofs and domes,” he said.
“The private residence is in very poor condition externally, mainly due to the loss of weather proofing but internally it is in a reasonable and readily retrievable structural condition.
“The use of teak throughout the house is the principal reason for its surprisingly good condition.
“It would certainly be a wonderful boutique hotel one day, incorporating original carved handrails and arched valances throughout.”
Paul praises the work of the Yangon Heritage Trust who advises government and consults to private parties on the heritage buildings in the city, as well as run heritage tours.
“The Yangon Heritage Trust’s knowledge of the heritage buildings and history of Yangon is unparalleled,” said Paul.
“David Gole’s leadership of the group and his immersion into the city over the last 10 months has resulted in great dividends for the group and the city – I look forward to returning in the near future.”