Challenges of Teak Architecture Conservation in Myanmar

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The country of Myanmar [Burma] is rich with historic architecture, the vast majority of which is linked to its history of ruling kingdoms and nearly complete adherence to Buddhism. Magnificent palaces and religious structures have been built of both masonry and timber for millennia, but as would be expected, little of the wooden architecture remains. While the most notable examples include numerous wooden monasteries throughout the country, wooden bridges and farmhouses also permeate the landscape and the fact that so many remains can be attributed to the forests, rich with teak, that once covered the region.

The tropical environment, and the wood-eating insects and fungi it supports, impact wooden structures in Myanmar in ways that the masonry architecture is relatively impervious to, but the advent of 19th century colonialization followed by 20th century military conflict and the resultant military rule have contributed significantly to the deterioration of all of the architectural heritage of Myanmar. This presentation/paper addresses the history of the loss of Myanmar’s wooden architectural heritage, recent and current attempts at its conservation and the challenges that will be faced as outside interests and the populous and government of Myanmar work towards both saving the country’s extant wooden heritage and creating a conservation ethic for the future.

Author: Rudy R. Christian

Click here to download this Architectural Conservation Working Paper.