World Monuments Fund publication

Written by Ester van Steekelenburg on . Posted in Consulting & Advisory

WMF

Urban Discovery’s director, Dr. Ester van Steekelenburg, has published a paper titled “Heritage Revitalization for a Vibrant and Viable Urban Future in Yangon” in the publication “Building the Future: The Role of Heritage in Sustainable Development of Yangon”. The publication reports on the proceedings of the International Conference held January 15-17 2015 in Yangon, Myanmar. The event was organised by World Monuments Fund (WMF) in cooperation with the Yangon Heritage Trust.

You may download the publication from here.

On a mission to preserve the beauty of Asia’s historic architecture

Written by Ester van Steekelenburg on . Posted in About us, Consulting & Advisory, Uncategorized

IMG_3331.es“There’s a strange irony in the fact that many Asians travel thousands of miles to experience Europe’s cobbled streets and ancient town centres while seeming to place little value on their own architectural heritage” says Urban Discovery’s founder Ester van Steekelenburg an interview with Sarah Lazarus in South China Morning Post’s Sunday Magazine. Read the full article here….>2014 08 SCMP MAGAZINE

Yangon, the city lost in time

Written by Ester van Steekelenburg on . Posted in Consulting & Advisory, Professional Training

yangon 1
Yangon is a city where time stood still… but reality is catching up fast, property developers are moving in swiftly to snap up the properties left behind by the government when they moved to the new capital Nay Pyi Daw.

The recent opening up of Myanmar opens many windows of opportunity. Preservation of the unique cityscape is one of them. Contrary to many other cities in Asia and because of period of political and economic isolation, Yangon still has a lot of its architectural heritage intact. Now that the city is on the brink of rapid development this presents a unique timely and very short window of opportunity.

The Yangon Heritage Thrust (YHT) is a group of Yangon residents who fear that these unique buildings may disappear and fall prey to property developers to be replaced by skyscrapers. Under leadership of Dr. Thant Myint-U they started a campaign to preserve the hundreds of priceless colonial-era buildings that make up Yangon’s unique cityscape with support from architects, members of the business community and non-government organisations. In addition to publications, public talks, and awareness raining campaigns, the trust has also initiated talks to come to what is the inevitable next step to guide development in the inner city: a viable private sector-led conservation plan. Without such a plan, Yangon’s unique heritage may fall victim to the modern urban frenzy.


I had the privilege of working with the Yangon Heritage Trust, Myanmar Association of Architects, Yangon Technical University and Yangon City Development Corporation in June 2013 on the first steps of making this plan. To be continued….

Crumbling Tibilisi

Written by Ester van Steekelenburg on . Posted in Consulting & Advisory

Dilapidated buildings in historic city centre

Dilapidated buildings in historic city centre


The old town of Tbilisi Georgia is crumbling. The historical city centre ignored by decades of Soviet rule is now subject to newly found investment pressure, as exemplified in the mushroom like new structures masterminded by the Saakashvili government. Not all residents see this as a sign of progress. Gudiashvili Square – a lovely leafy square surrounded by winding streets – was the recent scene of community protest to stop the demolition of historic properties. Thousands of people gathered, encouraged by heritage groups and local entrepreneurs – like café/restaurant Purpur – who recognise the value of the unique properties and urban fabric.

We were in town recently at the invitation of the Ministry of Culture and local heritage NGO Tiflis Hamkari to identify the possibilities for economically viable revitalization of the historic centre. The change of government offers a short but timely window of opportunity to change the mindset: use cultural heritage as an asset for economic development.