Rise of the Secretariat Yangon

After the British annexation of Upper Burma in 1886, the British colonial government’s administrative work increased exponentially resulting in an urgent need to expand the cramped and poorly lit administration building originally located on Strand Road.

The British assigned Henry Hoyne-Fox, executive engineer at the government’s public works the task of designing a sprawling new Victorian-style complex on 15.9 acres in the heart of Yangon.

The design, layout, and construction of the complex began in 1889.

The central building was completed in 1902, while the complex’s eastern and western wings were not completed until 1905, all at a cost of around 2.5 million kyats.

The construction effort on the massive U-shaped complex of red and yellow brick was truly a global effort.

The steel used in the support structure of the buildings was shipped in from Glasgow, Scotland and the original roof tiles were manufactured in France while the bricks and teak for the woodwork were locally sourced across Asia.

The masterful construction of The Secretariat Yangon was the work of a father-and-son team originally from Northern India.

Baboo Naitram Rambux took over the family’s construction company when he was just a teenager after his father was killed by a train in 1894.

His father had been responsible for the start of construction on the central building of the Secretariat Yangon, while Baboo was responsible for the completion of the central building and erected the two latter wings to the east and west.

The Minister’s Office

For over 120 years, it has been the epicenter of countless changes in the political progression of Myanmar.

It contains the Yangon Parliament House where Burma’s self-rule first began and the room where the assassination of General Aung San, the father of Modern Myanmar, and 7 cabinet members on 19th July 1947.

After Independence in 1948, the new government of the Union of Burma used the complex to house various ministries and government departments. The Secretariat then became known as the “Minister’s Office.”

Over the next few decades, the administrative center of power was shifted to Nay Pyi Daw, and the “Ministers’ Office” was left to fall into disrepair.

The Beginning of the Renovations

When the Myanmar government relocated the capital to Nay Pyi Taw in 2005, the complex was mostly abandoned and left to decay behind locked gates and imposing fences.

The Secretariat Conservation Group, is a well-established conservation specialist who undertakes restoration works of historical landmarks and monuments in order to restore the Secretariat Yangon as a culture complex.

The group itself consulted and hired several professional groups from all over the world for conservation architecture, interior design, landscape design, lighting, way-finding, and branding will see the sensitive restoration of the abandoned over 130-year-old former colonial government office – turning into a cultural complex containing museums, galleries, cultural event spaces, lounges and offices for creative industries complimented by an array of heritage, retails and F&B areas set within lush, landscaped gardens.