Singapore Company to Restore General Secretariat Colonial Structure in Yangon

Myanmar, Yangon, heritage, colonial architecture

Singapore-based Pomeroy Studio has been appointed to restore the Secretariat building, one of the largest colonial buildings in Yangon, according to a company public relations release issued on Tuesday.

Conservation of the architecture, interior design, landscape design, lighting, and branding will give to the abandoned 120-year-old former colonial government office a chance to return to its former glory. The 15,200 sq.m structure will be turned into a cultural complex with museums, galleries, cultural event spaces, lounges, and offices for creative industries, according to media reports.

The future structure will also integrate an array of heritage, retail, food, and beverage spaces set within the lush, landscaped gardens.

“The Secretariat is recognised as one of Yangon’s most important heritage buildings, and has been the scene of the most defining moments of Myanmar’s modern history. This includes the assassination of General Aung San, who paved the country’s path to independence,” said Prof Jason Pomeroy, founding principal of Pomeroy Studio.

This could be the way the former Secretariat will look like following restoration

Restoring this grand colonial building to its former glory and reinvigorating its internal spaces to develop art spaces, seeks to both preserve Yangon’s cultural past, and cultivate Myanmar’s creative future, he added.

The Secretariat, also known as the Ministers’ building, is located at the corner of Anawrahta Road and Thein Phyu Road in Yangon. The complex occupies approximately 16 acres. It was designed by British architect Henry Hoyne Fox who initiated the construction in January 1890. The construction of the main building was completed in December 1892.

The building was the first administrative office in Myanmar’s history and hosted Hluttaw (parliament) meetings from 1936 to 1962. The flag of the Union of Myanmar was raised for the first time on the flag pole on the front lawn after the 1948 independence.

However, the 1930 earthquake laid to waste many of the Secretariat’s iconic features, including its turrets and central dome. The building was left unrepaired post-independence. The restoration forms part of the Yangon Heritage Trust’s aim to restore and preserve the city’s architectural heritage in the face of development and modernization — a heritage deemed of world importance.

The move of the capital city from Yangon to Nay Pyi Daw accelerated further the decay of the building, which has been abandoned since the government relocated to new premises in the new capital. A first company had been granted a permit for the building’s renovation in 2014, however repairs were delayed for nearly two years. The new renovation project will be the first made under the new government.

Yangon Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein added that the regional government has a plan to give a new lease on life to various colonial buildings in Yangon city centre, as they are considered now priority heritage sites.

(Source: The Myanmar Times)