The Waziya Cinema, one of Yangon’s oldest and most celebrated theatres, stands among the few surviving venues on Cinema Row. Formerly names the “New Excelsior,” the cinema has been the site of innumerable cinematic and theatrical events. Martinez+Johnson Architecture, with leading knowledge and experience on historical rehabilitation and preservation with theatrical buildings, is currently working with the Yangon Heritage Trust to preserve the city’s most beloved artistic treasures.
Rapid development in Yangon is currently causing many of the city’s historical downtown buildings – a third of Yangon’s built heritage dates to the British Colonial Period – to be torn down, making way for new developments. A handful of historic preservation societies, including notably the Yangon Heritage Trust, are racing to preserve the buildings while educating local experts and the broader public about the importance of historic preservation. The Waziya Cinema on Cinema Row is one building the Trust is working to preserve, for it stands as a symbol on the city’s cultural heyday.
M+J is assisting with the completion of the Conservation Management Plan. This establishes the basis for future restoration work on the Cinema, and how it can be carried out with accuracy, integrity, and respect for the structure’s historic and cultural significance. This is the first plan developed in collaboration with the Yangon Heritage Trust, and will serve as a model for future preservation projects in the city. Progress on the Plan includes historic research of the aesthetic, architectural, and cultural heritage significance of the venue; surveying the building and surrounding land; and assessing the interior and exterior conditions, fabric, and structure of the Cinema in its current state. M+J provided conceptual designs for the theatre, outlining plans for reuse and refurbishment, the impacts of redevelopment of the Waziya Cinema, and how they are to be managed throughout the entire process.