On architecture in Myanmar

By Rita Aung

When people think about the architecture in Myanmar, they tend to visualise the golden pagodas and temples that truly reflect the core culture of this country. However as one can see, traces of European architecture that does not necessarily harmonise with traditional architecture can also be found. These European architectural buildings are known as “Colonial Buildings” and their existence stands as proof of the British colonial period in Myanmar dated back in the early 19th century. It is the origin of how these colonial buildings have come to exist in the first place that created the rich architectural history of Myanmar in addition to the traditional architecture. 


The Port Commissioner’s Building which is shown in the picture is currently used as a federal government office in Yangon and it’s also considered a colonial building; this building is also listed in the Yangon City Heritage List. In addition, the architectural style of the building followed the trend of architecture that was popularised in Europe in the early 19th century. Considering how much value and rich history these colonial buildings hold, it is only right that these historical artifacts are well maintained and preserved. However today, that is not exactly the reality for the colonial buildings within Yangon and the rest of the country. This is due to the fact that the landowners of where the buildings stand, hopes for the building to decay naturally enough to the point where the land can be sold to buyers who are willing to demolish the old structures in order to construct apartment buildings with a more modernised design. This wishful thinking of the landowners is encouraged by the fact that most of the colonial buildings are already in decaying states due to years of neglect. Moreover, there is more profit in selling land than actually spending on fixing and restoring the colonial building for the sake of maintaining historical heritage. 


However, the architectural heritage of these buildings hold a precious history and memory of what Myanmar has gone through over the decades. These colonial buildings of old age may not mean much to the landowners but to people who appreciate Burmese historical art, it is something for them to hold close to their hearts of the beauty of when these colonial buildings were in their prime.




Rita Aung is a sixth form student and she’s currently enjoying working on creative projects.