Relics of Rangoon

Rangoon, now called Yangon, has had a hell of a ride. Just a little fishing village until the late 18th Century, it grew into one of the largest ports in the world by the 1940s.
Rangoon c. 1940 
Best of British
Under the Brits, who had characteristically taken charge in the mid-19th Century, some of the city’s most iconic sculptures were built.  Among them is the magnificent Secretariat building, which served as Government buildings until 2005.
Secretariat Building, Rangoon
The Spell of Time
A combination of damage during the war, and neglect under the junta government, has cast a rather magical spell on the city. The buildings which survive have been on pause for 60 years, preserved except for the Banyan trees which now inhabit them.
A building in downtown Yangon 
An Unhappy Jewel
Although impossible for the tenants struggling to live in 1940s conditions, and rather sad awaiting their unknown fate, these buildings make Yangon a visual jewel of Southeast Asia.
A building in downtown Yangon
Side by Side
35% of the old buildings have already been demolished and replaced by aluminium clad horrors, making it both idiosyncratic and homogenous at once.
Rooftops of Downtown Yangon
Relics of Rangoon
Here are some of our favourite shots of the remains of old Rangoon, now in the hands of battling teams of conservationists and campaigners who are working tirelessly to decide how best to preserve what remains.  Let’s hope time is on their side.
Interior shot of The Secretariat, Yangon
Hidden buildings of Yangon
The Pegu Club, Yangon
The landing of an old Rangoon Relic
Yangon's Younger Face 
This is the view from Kalinko HQ in downtown Yangon. Henry, John and James (I'm not making that up...) the three British architects who sculpted Rangoon, must be turning in their graves...  That said, we secretly love it. So colourful!
 The view from Kalinko HQ, Downtown Yangon
Ps. The title of this blog is taken from a FAB book by Philip J. Heijmans, a must for any coffee table:


  • Kalinko

    Hi Clare! You’re right – it’s a really urgent issue. Companies like are doing amazing work, but time will tell whether enough can be saved.

  • Clare Hurley

    Wonderful pictures. We went last year and found the old colonial buildings fascinating, but in appalling conditions. We took a tour and were able to go inside some of the them. Their desertion has an eery quality recalling days long passed. The current government hopefully will be made to see the enormous potential in restoring as many as possible. Bringing tourism will help with their ambition to develop business. Singapore was on the path to replace their colonial buildings and were lucky to have an enlightened minister who saw their potential. The recently opened National Art Gallery is a beautiful example of restoration, joining two former government buildings. We lived in a stunning Chinese shop house which would have been knocked down. Switch off the bulldozer and perhaps have an international architects competition….maybe asking too much !

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