Since the mid-1980s, views toward urban heritage in historic town centers and the revitalisation of inner city areas have been re-evaluated in Southeast Asia (Tunbridge 1984, Kong/Yeoh 1994, Chang 2000). Originally regarded as old-fashioned and outdated stumbling blocks to modernization and progress, urban heritage has gradually experienced a shift in the eyes of planning and development experts and civil societies alike (Singer 1995, Logan 2002, Henderson/Webster 2015).
The rich urban heritage potential of Myanmar can also be regarded within the context of a generalized antagonism of “globalised urban modernity“ versus “urban heritage conservation“. Since the late 1980s, as Myanmar shifted to a market-oriented economy, many cities, including the most important and former capital city, Yangon, began a deep, accelerating transformation process.
Against this background, this paper attempts to highlight the importance and diversity of the existing natural, historical and cultural urban heritage sites and elements of major Myanmar cities, and prioritize their importance for conservation in order to utilize them as a base for urban planning and development. At first, a categorisation of the urban heritage will be explained, followed by the introduction of categories of heritage buildings. This leads to the several Urban Heritage Maps and Heritage Inventories. Major heritage laws, rules and regulations will be outlined and concepts of people-oriented heritage conservation will be discussed. Finally, multiple transformation processes, their drivers and causations, will be analysed.
The project uses a mixed methodological approach: High-resolution remote sensing and Geographic Information System analysis are coupled with field documentation and mapping in order to create a precise geo-referenced ground map in order to assess potential fields of awareness and action. Intensive expert and community interviews explore the perception and awareness of local experts and communities.
Keywords: Urban heritage|heritage maps|Myanmar