‘Thirty-one Yangon heritage buildings need renovation’: Bansal


Ben Bansal author of the Guide

Around 31 of the 110 heritage buildings listed in the "Architectural Guide Yangon" need urgent repairs and renovation, says Benjamin Bansal, one of its three authors.

Speaking at the launch of the second edition of the Guide and its website www.yangongui.de, Bansal said the present government is for heritage preservation and would surely take a call on the issue.

He said the website was launched to bring the Guide within the reach of the maximum possible people and his co-authors Elliot Fox and Manuel Oka and publishers DOM were all for it.

As the launch turned into a wider debate on heritage preservation priorities and strategies, some questioned the scare created around 'dangerous buildings'.

Cologne University professor Frauke Kraas said, "So long as the modern development rhetoric dominated government policies and popular attitudes, heritage preservation would face huge challenges."

She questioned the scare raised over 'dangerous buildings', saying it was often vested interests like real estate sharks who were behind that, because they eyed the space on which these buildings stand.

Yangon Heritage Trust director Moe Moe Lwin said the government would have to 'prioritise' what to preserve urgently and what to leave out for the moment.

"We are a poor country and resources for heritage preservation is always an issue," she told Mizzima after the debate. "So we need to decide which buildings should be immediately renovated."

Moe Moe Lwin said that while their Yangon Heritage Strategy needs to be updated, the need of the hour was to implement its existing recommendations.

When asked whether Yangon needs a 'satellite city' to take the pressure off its heart, where most heritage buildings are located, she said that may not be immediately needed.

"Yangon is expanding, new suburbs have come up, that should be enough to take the pressure of additional the population, but a new satellite city may not be needed. For all you know, there may not be enough takers."

Verity Ramsden pitched for inclusion of some residential properties on the heritage list , " Or else some real good old buildings that stands out in Yangon would be lost to real estate sharks who would love to tear them down to construct high rises."

Goethe Institut director Franz Xavier Augustin said a Burmese version of the "Architectural Guide Yangon" was needed.

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