Yangon Correctional Facility aka Insein Prison (photo by Manuel Oka)
I just finished reading An Unlikely Prisoner by Sean Turnell. The economist used to be a key adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi and her NLD-led government before the coup d’etat in 2021, which ousted her democratically elected government from power. Continue reading
By the dictates of closing browser tabs, I just wanted to jot down a very small number of reading notes on this gem of a PDF I found when researching post-independence South Asian New Town designs. Continue reading
I wrote an article for the current issue (#243) of ARCH+, a German magazine for architecture and urbanism. This special issue is entitled “Contested Modernities” and about the development of postcolonial modernisms in Southeast Asia.
My contribution recounts the works of Raglan Squire and Benjamin Polk, who left their mark on Yangon’s built environment and ought to be rediscovered today. I have written about their work and my research on this blog before.
The edition is in German and has an impressive list of authors, covering a wide geography and breadth of topics. An English edition will be published in the fall.
A short but beautiful trip in late 2019 was the last time I managed to set foot in Yangon, visiting the magical Tripitaka Library and being shown around inside. A few photos from the inside below, dug up from the SD card today. Looking at them feels strange, it is February 2021 after all and our friends in Yangon are going through some hard times.
Our Yangon Architectural Guide, which I co-wrote with Elliott Fox and Manuel Oka, came out in late 2015 and took a little more than four years to sell out its print run. What next? Some ideas regarding a second edition after the jump.
I was in Yangon in November 2019 to present on modern architecture in post-independence Yangon. In what is the first post in ages to grace this neglected blog, you can find details and a link to download the presentation after the jump.
The launch of our website in Yangon last week was a great chance to feel the pulse of Yangon’s built environment. More than 100 guests in the audience meant there was a great discussion taking place, providing food for thought for any future work on this project. Herewith some highlights.
We finally launched the website of our Architectural Guide Yangon. Herewith some notes on the production process and ideas behind it.
I ventured on a short trip to Yangon last week to launch the website to our book, now online at www.yangongui.de. Manu lovingly and painstakingly put it together over the last couple of months. Go check it out, it’s beautiful (and worthy a separate forthcoming post). Herewith a quick write-up for my records.
Originally published on uncube magazine: More than 50 years after it was built, this Buddhist library building in Yangon in Myanmar continues to exude the modern aspirations of its early days, while fulfilling its role as a site for traditional, spiritual learning. For Ben Bansal, one of the authors of a new guide to the architecture of Yangon, it is a building that like its American architect, Benjamin Polk, deserves more recognition.
The front of Tripitaka Library, shortly after its opening in the early 1960s. The landscaped garden, centred around the artificial lake, give the building a more stately impression than today. (Archival photos © Abhinav Publications)