Blog : Architecture

Yangon / Largest Collection of Colonial Architecture in Southeast Asia

Yangon / Largest Collection of Colonial Architecture in Southeast Asia

Under British rule from 1824 to 1948, Yangon became a significant center of commerce located between India and Singapore. The streets of Yangon offer a glimpse of the opulence of the old city and its heritage. A walking tour is one way to find out.

///  Myanmar ///

Story: Samutcha Viraporn /// Photos: Samutcha Viraporn

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After the second Anglo-Burmese war, Yangon was occupied by British troops.  Burma came under British rule, during which time it was declared a province of British India. The British made significant changes to the city of Yangon. In 1853, Dr. W. Montgomery and then lieutenant governor A. Fraser laid out a grid of tree-lined streets for the city of Yangon. New city planning placed the Sule Pagoda at the city center.

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After three Anglo-Burmese wars, the British in 1885 occupied all the area of present-day Myanmar. Despite the conflict, many new buildings were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and remained to be seen today. Some of them became government offices, embassies, the stock exchange, even shops and cafés. Others were abandoned and fell in disrepair. In 2012 the Yangon Heritage Trust was established to promote the environmental conservation of Yangon’s rich urban heritage through cohesive planning.

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The exhibition about colonial buildings in Yangon Heritage Trust office

One of the programs undertaken by the Trust is the Heritage Walking Tour through downtown areas. People who love architecture can visit the Yangon Heritage Trust office on Pansodan Street. There is an exhibition going along with   useful information about six routes for sightseeing. They are outlined in brochures. If time is not on your side, Living ASEAN recommends a shorter route as an option. The starting point is on Pansodan Street.  Start your journey on foot from here. Turn left into Merchant Road, then another left on to Sule Pagoda Road.  Soon you will come to Strand Road (See this route on the map). Give it two hours or a little more than that, and you witness a lot of Yangon’s glorious past and beautiful heritage. Need a break? Drop into the beautiful Rangoon Tea House for refreshments, or the coffee shop at the Strand Hotel. After a couple of hours on the road, coffee smells like heaven!

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You can find some design items at Hla Day shop
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Take a seat at Rangoon Tea House

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Link: www.yangonheritagetrust.org/home

 

Flexible Stone Veneer / The New Innovation of Natural Stone

Flexible Stone Veneer / The New Innovation of Natural Stone

Flexx Stone – Flexible Stone Veneer // Light, Thin and Flexible to apply

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A project in Thailand, designed by Studio B
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Flexx Stone at the counter

Flexx stone is a veneer with layers of natural stone and polymer composite. This innovation makes it thin, light and yet strong. It is used for both interior and exterior and especially where bending to a curved surface is required. Flexx Stone can be applied on any surface: concrete, masonry, wallboard, metal, plywood and drywall. It can be glued by PU adhesive, silicone and epoxy. Its surface can be treated like natural stone, glossy or matt.

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More than 15 color variation of Flexible Stone Veneer

Benefit of Flexx Stone:

Very light – 0.3 kg per square metre

Very Thin – 0.1-0.3 mm

Easy to cut and work with

Flexible to install on wall, ceiling, door, cabinet, furniture and decorative item

Cost effective

Water proof material

High Strength and durable

Every stale is unique

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Columns which was covered by Flexx Stone at PLATO X Mobella Showroom Ekamai, Sukhumvit
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The project in Canada

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Left: ceiling application, Right: Translucent serie

 

Nowadays, Flexible stone veneer was installed in many countries in Europe, America and Asia. Flexx Stone in Thailand was distributed by Plan X Co.,Ltd.

Distributor: Plan X, Thailand – https://www.facebook.com/Plan-X-668377643313198/

 

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Vann Molyvann / The Forgotten Masterpieces of Phnom Penh

Vann Molyvann / The Forgotten Masterpieces of Phnom Penh

There are more to Cambodia than Ankor Wat or a casino. Phnom Penh itself is a city with a legacy from its glorious days. Many may have lost in time. But some remain; including the architectural buildings designed by Vann Molyvann.        

///  Cambodia ///

Story: Jeremaih Pitakwong /// Photos: Samutcha Viraporn, Damrong Leewairoj

The Royal University of Phnom Penh's library building. Exterior pillars support the building weight (no pillars inside). The building is surrounded by a pond containing raindrops from a gutter.
The Royal University of Phnom Penh’s library building is surrounded by a pond. The building weight relies mainly on the exterior pillar.

 

The Institute of Foreign Languages's meeting room. The floor is elevated and the roof helps tackle with the heat.
The Institute of Foreign Languages’s meeting room. The floor is elevated and the roof helps tackle with the heat.

Phnom Penh is equipped with a great city-planning. Temples and palaces in the city have a hint of Southeast Asian style component incorporated with French colonial architecture. Although parts of these heritages are deteriorated, their good old days can still shone through.

Among high-rise buildings and growing villages indicating Cambodia’s improving economy, old and valuable buildings are neglected as the government and foreign investors prefer the “Modern” which suggests “Prosperity” rather than renovating its old ones.

However, old doesn’t mean out. Vann Molyvann, has designed “Modern” principal buildings since the 1960s.

Vann Molyvann was born in 1926. He was granted the scholarship from Cambodian government to study architecture at Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in France, where many modern architects are nurtured.  After the graduation, he served as a State Architect in 1956 and also played an important role for a period.

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The lifted walkway in the back gives a shade to the pathway below.
Details of light boxes a roof and a facade of the Institute of Foreign Languages group of buildings
Details of light boxes a roof and a facade of the Institute of Foreign Languages group of buildings

His significant works was designed and built within 1974; The National Theater (later torn down), the National Sports Complex (a.k.a. Olympic Stadium), the Institute of Foreign Languages inside the Royal University of Phnom Penh, Chaktomuk Conference Hall (renovated). All of his works could be considered as modern and would definitely be treated as national treasures if they were in Europe.

Since the government policies regarding these building are unknown, their futures are uncertain. For those who have an urge for a modern building, a quick sightseeing trip to the remaining site is highly recommended. Also, don’t forget to check out www.ka-tours.org where you can book a private architecture tour in Cambodia conducted by Cambodian architecture students.

The exterior of the National Sports Complex.
The exterior of the National Sports Complex.

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A yellow transparent fiberglass partition at the entrance and a gutter below.
A yellow transparent fiberglass partition at the entrance and a gutter below.

 

Vann Molyvann has designed a proper ventilation system for a tropical climate.
Vann Molyvann has designed a proper ventilation system for a tropical climate.

 

An area inside the stadium and a press observation deck overlooks the amphitheater.
An area inside the stadium and a press observation deck overlooks the amphitheater.

 

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Details of the indoor stadium roof.
Details of the indoor stadium roof.

At the age of 89, Van Molyvann has returned from his fugitive in France and now living in Siam Reap. While many might have already forgotten about his iconic buildings, it is safe to say his pages in the history will never be erased.

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