Two Comments

The views expressed here are the author's. They do not reflect those of CUSO International.
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Saturday, 17 January 2015


Yangon builds its new buildings in concrete.   Some are a mixture of concrete floors and pillars with the spaces in between bricked in and then covered with stucco.  It is a building technology that is quickly looks like shit, unless it is painted over frequently.  The effect of rain and mildew on concrete is not a pretty sight.
The technology displayed at the different building sites ranges from heavy piling machinery to wicker baskets to move dirt.  The balance lies towards the bamboo baskets.  I have seen one concrete mixer and many instances of concrete mixed on bag of cement at a time, using a shovel, some sand and gravel, and a bucket of water.   The excavation of a storm sewer in my street was entirely done by pickaxe and shovel, the heavy red silt loaded using wicker baskets, and the mortar for the brick wall and the concrete cover mixed by hand.  No machine was used, except a truck to haul away the dirt.  Nearby is a relatively big job to restore the decayed walls of a small canal.  It too is an entirely electrical and internal combustion engine free work site.

Old teak wooden houses are still interspersed between these blocks of concrete in many areas.  In Yangon, few are maintained well; many feel like redevelopment sites waiting for an investor.  Teak houses are still the norm in several provincial towns in Mon state.  The dominant built form in the countryside is hut of woven bamboo(?) walls and an assortment of tarps, corrugated steel and palm leaf roofs.

1 comment:

  1. Construction as a theme comes closer to our new expertise in the family since Cederick is a young architect since last November. Your description of preparing on site concrete is not part of his education though! It fits more by my experience in Egypt in the early 80's. Even tarmac repairs were done like you describe and long rows of people carrying tarmac on their head in simple buckets crossed roads full of what we called 'flying mumies' driving at dangereous speeds with way too many passengers! This strange balance between machines and manual labour is a clear sign of a society that has a long way to go if they want to copy our model.