Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Burmese Days 5: Historic British Houses in Rangoon

Rangoon must have once been an amazingly wealthy city, as evidenced by some of the remaining mansions of industrialists and government officials.  At 291 Shwedagon Pagoda Road, there are a couple of old mansions semi-hidden behind walls. My taxi driver was perplexed that I was interested in old houses, but he knew exactly where to take me for some good examples.
This amazing old mansion was once quite a showplace. Look at the Victorian trim (still existent, thanks to the durability of teak), gables, and overhanging soffits. It was designed to cope with a climate that dumped major rain during the summer monsoon and exposed its occupants to stifling heat.
Carriages or Rolls Royces once brought visitors through the breezeway.
The interior must have once been gorgeous. Look at how the same Corinthian column motif from the breezeway was repeated next to the stairwell.
Next door is another old mansion, this one with wide awnings and almost an alpine look. Assuming it was empty, I was about to barge inside and wander around when I saw some recent-vintage cars in the side driveway. Oops, it is occupied. Discretion took over and I headed back to the abandoned house next door.
From the van, we were stopped in traffic for a few minutes right outside another mansion at 105 Kabaaye Pagoda Road. Notice that the gatehouse was modern construction with a rather wild checked pattern.
Recent apartments are rather uninspired architecture and are typically poorly-maintained. The mildew eventually creeps over every surface, and, from what I could tell, the building owners seldom pressure-wash or bleach. The bottles in the lower right are for drinking water.

For another historic Rangoon house, please see my earlier article on the Lin Chin Tsong Mansion.

Photographs taken with a Panasonic G3 camera with Olympus 9-18mm lens or a FujiFilm X-E1 camera. RAW files converted with PhotoNinja software.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm currently reading a book by Jan-Phillip Sendker that takes place in Burma. After a little bit of googling for Burma and it's English-style homes, I ended up at your page. I just wanted to say your photos are hauntingly beautiful!