Landscape Dynamics in Yangon

Department: Landscape Architecture
Active Dates: January 2015 - January 2017

Project Title: Landscape Dynamics in Yangon

Project Team:
Ivan VALIN, PI
XIAO Han, RA
Sandra CHAN, RA

Project Funding: UGC-GRF

Abstract: 

This project explores the network of parks, gardens, grounds, and greenways that constitute the Yangon’s urbanized landscape. The goal of this research is to understand the historical relationship between nature and the city and to document the ecosystem services—the benefits to environment, culture, and economy—supplied by these landscape systems within the context of urban tropical Asia.

The project is composed of two specific but interrelated explorations of landscape in Yangon. The first investigates the transformation of a tropical environment into an urban landscape through the construction and maintenance of a primate city from its colonial origins to the present. This investigation constructs the conceptual framework through which to interpret existing landscapes. The second surveys the network of green spaces in the city, through remote sensed data and field interviews, to understand and describe how they contribute to the vital urban ecology of Yangon. These explorations will build on a discourse in urban ecologies that, while vast, has rarely examined cities in tropical climates. A study of the evolution of Yangon’s landscapes will create new knowledge of the complex relationships between structures of power and economy, social welfare, and the tropical environment. The functional description of Yangon’s landscapes, which borrows empirical methods and conceptual models from ecological science and landscape analysis, will observe and evaluate these parks, grounds, gardens, and greenways as an interdependent, layered urban ecology. Important lessons drawn from this exploration will also position Yangon as a case study in urban and landscape design, challenging and extending dominant planning and management practices in the tropical and subtropical regions.

Anticipated Outcomes:

  • 1 paper in international journal in urban planning or urban research fields
  • 1 paper in international journal in urban design or landscape architecture

Outputs: 

  • Conference papers:
    Valin, I (2014) “Meaning and Message in Yangon’s Parks,” International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments: Whose Tradition? Conference, Kuala Lumpur.
  • Valin, I (2014) “Yangon’s Green: Evolving Visions for a Tropical City’s Urban Parks,” International Burma Studies Conference, Institute for Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), National University of Singapore.
Enlarge Photo: Landscape Dynamics in Yangon 1
UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG
FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE