Development rush could doom Yangon's architectural treasures
As Myanmar's economy grows following political reforms, the former capital's majestic colonial-era buildings are under increasing threat by those looking to cash in on fresh opportunities
For local investors they are unwieldy behemoths occupying prime real estate. For the nostalgic they remain noble vestiges of an era almost forgotten, when the city, then called Rangoon, was the most cosmopolitan in the region. For tourists they are one of Asia's most concentrated collections of colonial buildings and grand sights in themselves, unartificially preserved in time. For nationalists they can be an unwanted reminder of less independent times, when the subjugated people were answerable to the caprices of colonial authorities.
COLONIAL REMINDER: The Secretariat, built 1889-1905, was the seat of government during British rule.
The question of what to do with Yangon's colonial-era architecture began in earnest when the military government moved Myanmar's capital from Yangon to Nay Pyi Taw in 2005. Many buildings that had been in use as government offices were left largely empty by the move, and conservationists have since been struggling to save them from drastic redevelopment or the wrecking ball.
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