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Owing to decades of military rule, Yangon in Myanmar is the only Asian city with a largely intact historic core. Given the speed of modernization, there is only a small window of opportunity to preserve the unique character and history of the city before it is lost.
Margaret Brooke and Ester van Steekelenburg, former CDIA consultants took the chance to advocate for the conservation of Yangon’s historic core when they presented the results of CDIA’s pre-feasibility study (PFS) on heritage-led urban regeneration project in the recently concluded Urban Land Institute Talk on 21 March 2017 in Hong Kong. Some 40 real estate investors and developers active in the Asian market participated in the event.
With support from CDIA, Ms. van Steekelenburg led a team of planners, architects and economists in 2015 to help the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) and the Yangon Heritage Trust (YHT) develop the strategies, roadmaps and investment packages for the three pilot sites in the city’s downtown conservation area: Pansodan, Shwe Bontha, and Bogalayzay. The project further proposed tools that can pave the way for urban regeneration/adaptive re-use interventions that respect Yangon’s historic fabric.
The PFS demonstrated how defined planning guidelines can help investors unlock the huge investment potential of underutilized properties and sites while promoting cultural heritage. At the same time, it showed equally important benefits such as revenue generation, job creation, and better living conditions for people through upgrading of basic infrastructure.
“Through this project, we hope to set a good example how Asian developers can get involved with restoration projects and combine profitability with community impact,” said Ms. van Steekelenburg.